What Kind of Headache Do I Have? And Can a Chiropractor Help?
There is nothing worse than battling with a lingering headache when you’re trying to go about your day. Headaches can come in all different shapes and sizes and can range from sharp shooting sensations to neck soreness, debilitating pain, sensitivity to light, and everything in between.
There are so many different types of headaches, and one of the biggest questions that people tend to have on the topic is simple: what type of headache do I have and can a chiropractor really help? First, let’s dive into some of the main types of headaches so you can determine what you are dealing with before you visit your chiropractor for help.
What Are the Different Types of Headaches?
Anyone who has ever experienced headaches before knows that every headache can be completely different and that is because there are plenty of different types of headaches. Here are a few of the main types of headaches, what they feel like, and what may be causing them.
Tension headaches are some of the most common types of headaches and are often triggered by stress. These headaches can vary depending on the individual, but for most people, these headaches present as a deep aching sensation and can come with sensitivity or soreness around the neck, shoulders, or forehead.
Ice, relaxation, adjustments, and light stretching can all help with these types of headaches.
Migraine headaches are some of the most unfortunately common headaches that people experience and can be both painful and debilitating. These migraines can resolve relatively quickly or last for several days and can be brought up by dehydration, hormonal changes, sleep disruption, certain foods, or chemical exposure.
Signs of migraines include:
- Headaches accompanied by nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Visual disturbances (auras) in the eye
Manual therapies such as spinal manipulation and massage can greatly help with migraine symptoms. Patients should also try to determine the trigger of their migraine along with their chiropractor to try to help prevent these headaches from happening in the first place.
Sinus headaches are caused by a type of allergic reaction and typically cause an X shape of pain, starting at the center of the bridge of the nose and extending outward, typically above and below the eyes. If you have seasonal allergies or chronic sinusitis, you may be prone to these types of headaches. Sinus headaches can be accompanied by intense pressure, stuffed nose, sneezing, or congested ears.
The good news is, your chiropractor can help with some of the symptoms associated with these types of sinus headaches. It is also important to note that migraine headaches are commonly misdiagnosed as sinus headaches.
Exertion headaches, typically involved a throbbing sensation on the side of the head, following a period of exertion. For example, many people experience these types of headaches after sex, intense exercise, or other physical activities. Sometimes these headaches are also accompanied by feelings of lightheadedness.
The extra blood flow to the skull during these activities is what will typically trigger this type of headache. Tension headaches can last anywhere from a few hours to a few minutes.
Hormonal headaches are common in women and are typically associated with hormonal fluctuations such as those experienced during menstruation and pregnancy. Some women may also experience these types of headaches when using birth control pills.
While there isn’t much to be done about natural hormonal fluctuations, it is important that individuals who experience these types of headaches hydrate regularly, maintain a healthy diet, and take care of their overall health.
Cluster headaches are typically characterized by intense, piercing pain and at times an accompanied burning sensation behind one eye or on one side of the face. They are called cluster headaches because they typically happen in “clusters” or multiple times per day, often at the same time. These headaches are most likely to occur in the spring and fall.
Cluster headaches are rarely one-and-done. Other notable side effects of these types of headaches include:
- Drooping eyelids
- Nasal congestion and drainage
- Sensitivity to sound and light
- Pale and sweaty skin
- Redness in the face
- Eye redness
If you feel as though you are experiencing cluster headaches, then it’s important that you visit your chiropractor for an exam and assessment so that you can get on the right path toward pain relief.
One of the least common forms of headaches is known as hypertension headache. This is a specific type of headache that is associated with critically high blood pressure and may occur in people who have a history of hypertension.
Signs of hypertension include:
- Pain on the sides of the head
- Accompanied vision changes
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
If you believe you are experiencing this type of headache, you need to seek immediate medical attention and focus on lowering your blood pressure.
What Kind of Headaches Can a Chiropractor Help With?
In short, a doctor of chiropractic can help with any type of headache. When you visit your chiropractor, they will do a full physical examination, take a complete health history and perform x-rays if necessary to get to the root of the issue. This is the best way to rule out any type of cervical issue, subluxation, or injury that may be contributing to your headaches.
Through spinal manipulation or an “adjustment,” chiropractors can help relieve nerve pressure in the neck, alleviate misalignments, and provide some much-needed relief from headache pain. Your chiropractor can also help with exercises at home, health tips, and icing remedies that can you find the type of relief you are looking for.
Here at McAuliffe Chiropractic Office, we know that headaches can occur for all types of reasons and that the cause can be as unique as the patient's. This is why we never dismiss patients who come to us with lingering headaches or migraine pain. There are more ways to handle your headaches than just taking Tylenol every day.
If you have a question about headaches and chiropractic care, make sure to schedule a consultation or call us directly at 301-776-0755 with your questions. We are here to help in any way we can, no drugs or pain medicine involved—just real results so you can get back to your life, headache free.