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Headaches And Their Symptoms - A Real Pain In The Neck

Updated on January 10, 2012
Tight Neck Muscles Can Cause Headaches.
Tight Neck Muscles Can Cause Headaches.

Did you know that there are over 150 types of headache?

Headaches can be roughly divided into 3 groups.

1. Tension Headaches (the most common) which are caused by contracted muscles in the neck and head region. The pressure of the muscles on the nerves and blood vessels decreases blood flow and leads to accumulation of waste products.

There are many reasons why the muscles become contracted.

2. Vascular (or congestive) Headaches are caused by excessive fluid pressing on the meninges. Migraines and cluster headaches are vascular headaches.

3. Traction Headaches (these are the most serious) are the least common. they indicate a serious underlying condition.

If you have a job that requires the head to be in the same position for extended periods, this could be a contributing factor for tension headache. Likewise, if you have a high stress job or are of a stressful personality.

Asking a few questions can provide some helpful information about your headache.

If you do decide to seek treatment, you will be able to complete your Health history form more accurately.

1. How long have you been getting headaches?

2. When did they begin?

3. Was there a sudden on-set - for instance are they the result of an accident? Sudden onset headaches could indicate brain or central nervous system infection, tumor or aneuresym- especially if they are severe and repeating and do not go away in 4/5 days. Are they accompanied by nausea and vomiting? If any of these symptoms are present it is crucial to see a Medical doctor.

Whereabouts in the head do they occur? Migraine and cluster headaches occur on one side of the head and produce extreme throbbing that may cause the eye and nose to water. Tension headaches may occur on the back, front or side of the head. They are characterized by a dull, persistent ache and a tightness in the area where they occur.

What type of pain does the headache produce?

Tight Shoulder Muscles Can Cause Tension Headache.
Tight Shoulder Muscles Can Cause Tension Headache.

How does the headache progress? Migraines begin with blurred vision. Sensitivity to light and nausea follow. Vomiting may occur.

When are they worse? Tension headaches are commonly worse in the evening - cluster headaches occur usually at night.

How long do they last? Cluster headaches can go on for days or weeks - one after the other. They can last from 10 minutes up to 2 hours or longer and can happen 2 or 3 times a day.

Certain food allergies can cause migraines. Sinus can also be a cause of headaches.

A person withdrawing from alcohol or recreational drugs may suffer from headaches.

If you are an office worker is our work station set up properly? Do you take breaks from the computer, and for how long? Do you perform any exercises or stretches at your desk? If your office situation is a contributing factor to your headaches, you may consider learning some suitable neck, shoulder and back stretches and exercises. It is also important to take steps to set up your work station properly.

If your headaches seem to be predominantly caused by stress find out what practical steps you can take. Enrolling in a yoga or meditation class, or attending a stress management program are good strategies for some people. Others prefer to meditate on their own. Acupuncture could also be an option for stress related headaches.

A visit to an Osteopath or Chiropractor could be the first step in determining if there is an underlying structural cause or misalignment

Whatever the cause of headaches, massage can do no harm - except during a migraine attack or if there is an infection present. Massage relaxes and calms the person as well as loosens tight muscles around the neck and upper back.

A naturopath can assist with general life style modifications or improvements. A naturopath can offer help with diet, sleep and other life style factors.

In summary, tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They are caused by tight, tense muscles and are well served by massage treatment. Congestive headaches are less common and can be usefully treated by massage in the sub-acute stage. Headaches caused by an underlying Central Nervous System disorder are the least common, but most serious. These need medical intervention.

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