Headaches are one of the most common health-related conditions Australian’s experience, with 15% of the population taking pain relief at any given time.
Over 4.9 million Australians are affected by migraines and according to a recent report from Deloitte Access Economics, the condition is costing the Australian economy $35 billion every year.
There are multiple types of headaches ranging in severity, duration and frequency, if you are experiencing chronic headaches it should always be investigated by your doctor. Chronic headaches can be debilitating and have a huge impact on your life – including work, family and relationships.
Different Types of Headaches
Headaches come in many forms, and their symptoms and causes vary. Successfully identifying the type of headache you’re experiencing can help manage and treat the condition.
Migraines are a moderate to severe recurring headache that can last up to 72 hours per attack. It is characterised by an intense throbbing or pulsing pain in one area of the head and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. A person who has a migraine may experience increased sensitivity to smell, light and sound.
2. Tension Headaches
Tension headaches come as a dull, constant pain on both sides of the head, neck and behind the eyes. Some people describe it as feeling like there’s a tight band wrapped around their head. Tension headaches can be chronic, typically lasting for hours or can even be continuous. This type of headaches is usually triggered by stress, anxiety, or depression.
3. Hypnic Headaches
A hypnic headache usually affects people over 50, it is characterised by a mild to moderate throbbing pain on both sides of the head. The attack can last up to three hours and may also be accompanied by nausea and heightened sensitivity to light and sound. Hypnic headaches are generally harmless, though they can occur several times each week.
4. Cluster Headaches
This type of headache is aptly named because it is a series of short but extremely painful headaches, it can occur every day for weeks or even months at a time. Like the hypnic headache, it also tends to wake a person from sleep with an intense burning or piercing pain behind or around one eye. The excruciating pain usually peaks within 5 to 10 minutes and could last up to one hour, then abruptly stops. This is a rare type of headache, affecting one to two people in a thousand.
5. Exertional Headaches
This type of headache is triggered by strenuous physical activity such as weight lifting, running, jumping, sexual intercourse and even bouts of coughing or sneezing.
6. Medication-overuse Headaches
Also known as rebound headache, its symptoms are similar to those of either tension headaches or migraines. As the name implies, this is caused by the overuse of pain killers, leading to the worsening of a pre-existing headache.
7. Posttraumatic Headaches
This headache can start two to three days after a head injury. Most posttraumatic headaches fortunately taper off over a 3 to 6 month period. They are characterised by a dull pain that intensifies from time to time. It is usually accompanied by lightheadedness, concentrating problems, memory problems, fatigue and irritability.
8. Cervicogenic Headache
This headache may be caused by a damaged disc, a cervical osteoarthritis, or a sudden movement that compresses a cervical nerve. A Cervicogenic Headache is characterized by pain that radiates from the neck up to the base of the skull and spreads to the front of the head. The symptoms are usually associated with dizziness, blurred vision, pain in one or both arms, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, and a headache that occurs through certain neck postures or movement.
Common Causes of Headaches
Learning the common triggers of headaches can help you avoid an attack. Here are some common headache triggers:
- Lack of Sleep or Irregular Sleep Schedule
- Hormonal changes in women
- Extreme Physical Activity
- Eyestrain and other Visual Triggers
More Serious Causes of Headaches
The majority of headaches, no matter how severe they feel, are harmless. Some however are triggered by underlying medical conditions such as:
- Severe hypertension
- Cervical Spine Issues
How The Brisbane Spine Clinic Can Help
Manual therapy provided by a trained clinician on the upper neck joints can often alter the pain pathway to reduce headache symptoms significantly.
We find that in some cases, only 4-5 interventions performed by our spinal consultants are required to see a reduction in headache symptoms.
If you’re suffering from chronic headaches with no improvement, book an appointment with The Brisbane Spine Clinic to discuss how manual therapy techniques may help to provide relief.