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Body Signals: Headaches and Health

Have you ever had a headache that kept you from enjoying the things you love to do? Maybe you’ve had to call out of work or leave work early because your head was pounding?

Headaches are extremely common. Whether they occur after a long day at the office, or right when you wake up in the morning, they can be a sign of an underlying health issue. Remember, a symptom – or body signal – is your body’s way of letting you know something is not functioning properly. A headache is usually not the primary problem, it is usually a symptom, or signal, your body is sending you letting you know it’s not functioning the way it’s designed to.

A headache can be a sign of physical stress, emotional distress, or could be caused by an underlying medical disorder, such as: high blood pressure, anxiety, or depression. Headaches can also lead to other problems in life, such as the inability to concentrate and focus, which can lead to missed school and work. Not only this, but they can also interfere with the enjoyment of recreational activities or your personal life. Plain and simple – headaches decrease the quality of life. In order to explain headaches and give you some insight on this particular body signal, we are going to explain the two different types of Headaches: Primary and Secondary.

I.   Primary headaches are caused directly by overactivity of, or problems with, structures in the head that are pain-sensitive like blood vessels, muscles, and nerves of the head and neck.

Migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches fall into this category.

  • Migraines can be classified as frequent, disabling, intense throbbing or pulsating pain in the head, or neck. These usually cause some type of sensitivity to light and sound, and can also be associated with nausea, and in some extreme cases, vomiting.
  • Tension headaches can be classified as tight spots of pain around the head, with intense pressure behind eyes or over the eyebrows. Typically, the pain from these headaches isn’t debilitating, but is constant, dull, and steady. Tension headaches are also the most common type of primary headaches—most adults will have experienced one or more of these within their lifetime.
  • Cluster headaches can be classified as consistent waves of headaches, with spots of relief between symptoms. These headaches can wake someone from sleep, and typically occur around the same consistent times, usually within the eyes or the same side of the head.

Primary headaches can be causally related to dysfunction in the cervical spine. For that reason, many people seek chiropractic care to get relief from headaches. Correcting the dysfunction (subluxation) in the cervical spine will help decrease the number of primary headaches.

Other things that may cause these types of headaches include poor posture, or certain foods, such as processed meats with nitrates.

II.   Secondary headaches are symptoms that occur from another condition in the body that stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves of the head.

Secondary headaches are headaches that are not causally related to issues with the head or brain, they are a side-effect of some other dysfunction in the body.

A wide range of different factors can cause secondary headaches: dehydration, spine dysfunction (subluxation), lack of sleep, too much screen time, and overuse of pain medication.

Typically, these headaches can be classified as some of the worst headaches experienced within someone’s lifetime. They can be abrupt without any buildup or warning, consistent, or related to weather, specific foods, or hormone cycles.

Did you know that roughly 75% of all headaches can be caused by issues in the spine?

It is imperative to keep your spine healthy and functioning. A headache can be a body signal that your spine is not healthy. The health of the spine causally relates to the health of our spinal cord and nerve roots which play a vital role in our overall health. You do not let headaches interfere with your personal life or let them control your life. The root cause could potentially be coming from your spine—and if you never get checked, you’ll never know if that is the root issue. So, if you or a loved one suffer from headaches, reach out to a chiropractor for a spinal exam and evaluation. If you had the option to help your body heal in a natural, better way, would you?


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