Headaches are a commonly occurring condition in today’s society. Nearly every one of us has suffered from some type of a headache in one form or another. This article will focus on how to differentiate one headache from another and some of their common causes.
The most commonly occurring headache is the “tension” or “muscular” variety. This type of headache presents itself as increased tightness across the apex of the skull. The necks anatomy is important with this type of headache. The neck is composed of 7 vertebrae and 8 pairs of nerves. The neck has a normal curvature called a lordosis. This curvature’s purpose is to help absorb shock from the activities of everyday life. A common finding in most people is a loss of this normal curvature or a straightening of the neck. This straightening of the neck leads to muscular imbalances between the muscles on the front and back of the neck. This in turn increases the likelihood of nerves becoming irritated and pinched.
The most common causes of tension headaches are poor sleeping and working posture, the two areas in which most of us spend a majority of our day. In terms of sleeping posture, the ideal positions for sleeping are either on the side or on the back. Stomach sleeping and sleeping with your arms above your head tucked under your pillow is highly discouraged as it places the entire spine in a stressed and strained position. Other tips for sleeping include the proper height and number of pillows. Too many or too few pillows can cause excessive strain on the neck region. A contoured pillow is ideal as it keeps the neck’s curvature in its proper position.
Most of the people in today’s workforce sit in front of a computer everyday. If an individual is working day in and day out with faulty mechanics eventually they will develop what’s called an RSI or “repetitive stress injury”. A common example of an RSI is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Carpal tunnel syndrome is nothing more than a pinched nerve in the hand. This same type of repetitive injury can occur anywhere in the body including the neck and head. Pinched nerves in this area can be a prime source for tension headaches. This is why an ergonomic assessment of one’s workstation is essential in helping injuries from occurring and or reoccurring.
As I do with all of my patients, I tell them that when you’re doing anything in life you want to put your body in its strongest and most advantageous position possible. When you’re sitting at a computer the biggest rule of thumb is to keep all your bodies’ joint angles at 90 degrees. This includes keeping your elbows at your sides while typing or using the computer mouse, being careful not to over extend the arms. Set up your desk chair so that both your knees and hip joints are at 90 degrees. The position of your hips and knees will be dictated by your chair height and distance from your desk.
Migraine headaches are often very debilitating. Many things including sensitivities to light, various scents, and or noise can trigger migraines. The trigger of the migraine has little to do with the inherent imbalances that the body may be under. I associate the migraine headache with imbalances in the organ systems of the body. The main organ that may be involved is the liver. The liver itself is the filter of the body. The liver filters out all of the toxins in the body, much like the air filter in your car. If the liver gets congested with toxins then a back up can occur. The body can have adverse reactions from this scenario, migraine headaches being a very common one. One of the remedies for this is a detoxification program that helps detoxify and rejuvenate the liver.
Food allergies, more commonly food sensitivities, are other common causes for migraines. A food allergy is very different from food sensitivities. A food allergy is much easier to detect. In some cases, there is a potential fatal consequence that the person can have from this type of allergy. These people have to find out what they are allergic to and stay away from the offending food. Specific blood tests can help determine if these allergies exist.
On the other hand, certain food sensitivities are much harder to detect and have a totally different affect on the body. In many instances the individual can crave the offending food even more. This reaction in the body, although more subtle, can be a more chronic irritation over time. Some of the more common foods found to be irritants are dairy, chocolate and refined foods (in a general sense).
Overall there are other types of headaches that exist. This article looked at two commonly occurring types of headache. The “tension” or “muscular” headaches are considered primarily a mechanical problem with the neck and its associated muscles and nerves. Migraine headaches are considered organic in nature or can be viewed as a potential nutritional problem. Regardless of the type of headache the goals of care are the same; they include finding the source of the headache and fixing it through chiropractic manipulation, nutritional therapies or exercise rehabilitation. Lastly, finding out what caused the headache in the first place is equally important. The basic premise here is to look at the things that people do on a daily basis. This includes sleeping posture, working ergonomics, and diet. Making these types of changes will wind up helping not only headaches but also health in general.