Headache Causes

By Dr. Scott Colasanti

Headaches are a very common problem that will affect most of us from time to time.

What causes headaches and treatmentsThere are in fact many different types of headaches ranging from vascular headaches, like migraine and cluster headaches to muscular and tension-type headaches. Some headaches arise from hormone imbalances, some from exposure to chemicals or certain foods, and overuse of certain medications. Others headaches are the result of anatomical anomalies or rare neurological conditions.  Emotional stress is also a big contributor to headaches. In light of recent holiday festivities, we can’t leave out the dreaded hangover headache, resulting from over-consumption alcoholic beverages.
A lot is still unknown about headaches and there is in fact probably a lot of overlap between different types of headaches.
The most common type of headache is the tension-type headache, which accounts for about 90% of all headaches. This headache is usually the result of day-to-day stresses that we impose on our bodies. Whether we are sitting at desk or standing at an assembly line, we are subjected to the postural demands of doing work that is ‘in front of us’. This is true even more so now with the popularity of portable devices and laptops, which demand our focus to the point that we develop something called ‘forward head posture’.  This causes a lot of tension in the muscles and joints of the neck and can eventually cause nerve irritation, which may lead to headaches, typically in the back of the upper neck and in the forehead.
Unfortunately the most common intervention used for the treatment of headaches is taking medication, which at best provides temporary relieve and may have undesirable side effects.

Bearing in mind that there is a time and place for medication such as with severe migraine headaches, most headaches would likely benefit from complementary types of treatment like chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture. There are a multitude of studies that show that these types of therapy are highly effective for the treatment of headaches.

Finally, keeping in mind that the most headaches are the result of our lifestyles, most headaches can be reduced in their severity or largely prevented by adopting healthier lifestyle changes such as postural awareness, active exercise and stretching, proper nutrition and stress management.

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