Understanding and Managing Headaches

Perhaps debilitating migraines plague your everyday life. Maybe you just come down with the occasional headache after a long day at the office or a stressful argument with a loved one. Regardless of how often you suffer from headaches or to what degree, you should know that they are abnormal. In order to prevent future headaches from interfering with your life, it helps to understand what they are, what causes them and how to prevent them.

Headaches are pains felt in the head and upper neck, two of the most common places for pain in the body. There are three categories of headaches, but the most common type is the primary headache, which includes migraines, tension headaches and cluster headaches. Most people will have a primary headache in their life, and, in fact, tension headaches affect up to 90 percent of adults. Sometimes these headaches affect the quality of life, but most primary headaches resolve themselves.

It is not known what causes tension headaches, which are the most common type of headaches, but it is known that they occur due to physical or emotional stress on the body. These are the headaches you get from staring too long at a computer screen or holding onto stress instead of healthily relieving it.

Cluster headaches are experienced by only a small percentage of the population and tend to run in families. These are headaches that come in groups that last for several weeks or months with long, pain-free periods separating them. The pain associated with cluster headaches is generally more severe than that experienced during a tension headache.

Migraines are caused by the enlargement of blood vessels that in turn cause the nerves to expand and release chemicals throughout the body. There are a number of different triggers that cause migraines, including stress, certain odors, bright or flickering lights, specific foods, alcohol and cigarette smoke.

Regardless of the type of headaches you might suffer from, I reiterate what I noted before: They are not normal and you do not have to suffer needlessly.

When it comes to literature about headaches, there is always mention of how to cure them. The most common way to cease the pain of a headache is through the use of medications, many of which have adverse side effects.

Instead of trying to “cure” headaches, it makes more sense to focus on preventing them. There are things you can do in your daily routine to help keep headaches at bay, including taking the time to relax and stretch at work and finding coping mechanisms to healthily release stress in your body instead of carrying it around with you.

Chiropractic care, with its emphasis on full-body wellness, also helps people who suffer from regular headaches. We invite you to join us on September 8 for our monthly health and wellness workshop to learn more about how you can live your life headache-free. Seating is limited; call today to reserve your seat.


Stoppler, Melissa Conrad, MD. Migraine Headache. www.MedicineNet.com. (January 8, 2010) Retrieved August 9, 2010 from http://www.medicinenet.com/migraine_headache/article.htm.

Wedro, Benjamin C., MD, FAAEM. Headache. www.MedicineNet.com. (August 4, 2010) Retrieved August 9, 2010 from http://www.medicinenet.com/headache/article.htm.

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