As many as 96 per cent of us will suffer headaches at some time and 70 per cent of us has one on a monthly basis.
Poor posture, whiplash injury, and prolonged sitting can increase the risk. Successful treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis and tailored rehabilitation plan.
Common Types of Headache
Originating from the neck this type of headache can occur almost daily and may be present prolonged periods. The pain usually starts in the back of the neck and refers into the neck and forehead and occasionally into a shoulder and or arm.
Moving the neck can make the headache worse and applying pressure to the neck or shoulder muscles may either ease or exacerbate pain. Bad posture or sitting with the chin poking forward for long periods often contributes in this type of headache.
This can cause pain anywhere in the head but is generally worst around the temples and forehead or at the back of the head and the neck. Increased tenderness to touch, nausea, numbness or visual sensations may also be experienced in a tension headache which can be exacerbated by stress. This type of headache will often be worse at the end of the day or in the early evening.
Migraines are thought to originate from vascular or chemical imbalances in the brain. Migraines may be severe and typically may start on only one side of the head. An attack can last from a few hours to several days. They are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting together with increased sensitivity to light and sound.
Some sufferers also experience flashing lights, strange smells, and difficulty in speaking or temporary numbness before a headache, known as an aura.
Less common types of headache include:
- Medication overuse headache from long-term frequent use of painkillers.
- Jaw dysfunction leading to limited mouth movement, head pain and tenderness.
- Cluster headache. Generally worst at night and extremely painful they occur in bursts with long periods between attacks.
- Temporal arteritis headache. Caused by an inflammatory reaction in an artery, pain is generally on the side of the head often exacerbated by hair brushing. Sufferers are typically over 50.
- Sinus headache. After a sinus infection, a lingering pain may be experienced around the eyes and in the cheekbones. During the infection, it is common to feel pain with changes in head position
What general factors contribute to headache?
Poor use of the joints and muscles in the neck and upper back can cause increased tension and can refer pain to the head. Poor movement also disrupts the brain’s ability to regulate the body’s positioning which can exacerbate the problem.
Headaches themselves can disturb the delicate balance of chemicals and blood flow in the brain increasing the likelihood of developing more headaches.
Headaches can be triggered by stress and tension, poor posture, emotional upset, a cold, the consumption of certain foods or additives and hormones – such as those related to the menstrual cycle.
Seek emergency medical help for:
- A sudden or explosive onset of headache
- A changing character of headache
- A new or different kind of headache
- A headache associated with fever
- A headache that awakens you from sound sleep