Headaches – what your body is trying to tell you

Do you suffer headaches? Did you know that that pain in your head could be a message from your body that something is amiss? What happens when you get a headache? Do you raid the medicine cupboard for some pain killers or ‘soldier on’ through the pain? 

Headaches are invariably a signal from your body that something is out of whack. So addressing the underlying cause of your headaches is the only way to stop them coming back once the pain killers wear off!

In May we focussed on stress awareness & management. We see patients every day with stress-related complaints, with headaches being near the top of the list. So for June 2021, we’re leaning into that with this new body signals blog series and also running a great workshop to banish headaches & migraines forever! 

So, What is a headache?

According to the Mayo Clinic a headache is any pain in the head, can be one sided or on both sides of the head, they can be in one specific area, they can radiate from one area to another or even feel like the head is in a vice grip. A headache can appear gradually or suddenly and may last a few minutes to a few days. The pain experienced during a headache may be dull, sharp or throbbing. Not a fun experience, no wonder drugs is the usual go-to! 

We classify headaches into two groups; Primary & Secondary Headaches.

  •  Primary headaches are those caused by an overactivity in the pain structures of the brain
  • Secondary headaches are symptoms of an underlying condition, eg sinusitis, hangovers and concussion
 

Which of the following common headache types describes you? 

  •  Cervicogenic headaches are a secondary headache (so caused by an underlying issue). They are chronic headaches caused by issues in the joints and muscles of the upper neck (the cervical region) with the pain being felt in several spots including the neck and head. 
  • Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and is described as a mild to moderate pain that is felt all over the head and can feel like there is a tight band around the head. 
  • Migraine headaches cause a severe throbbing or pulsing pain usually on one side of the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea/vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Some people will have nausea or vomiting with migraines and others will experience numbness and difficulty speaking. 

What causes a headache?

Some common triggers of primary headaches include:

  • Alcohol in particular red wine
  • Foods including chocolate, cheese, breads and meats high in nitrates
  • Coffee and energy drinks
  • Oversleeping or lack of sleep
  • Poor postural patterns
  • Stress
  • Skipped meals
  • Dehydration

How to prevent headaches? It’s easier than you think!

After reading the list of causes above, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you have to give up everything to prevent headaches! But that is not the case – you just need to work out what is causing YOUR headaches specifically. The best way to do that is through a process of elimination, one by one. Then you’ll single out the one thing that triggers your headaches without having to overhaul your life all at once. 

For example, you might notice you get headaches after working on a computer for long periods. Ask yourself – is that because you’re engrossed in your work and forgot to drink enough water (dehydrated) or because you’re sitting in unnatural lighting that is putting strain on your eyes? 

General guidelines for headache prevention include: 

  • Get hydrated! Water is vital, and a large percentage of headaches can be prevented by simply drinking enough water. To test this theory – when you feel a headache developing, go and have a BIG drink of water, wait 20 minutes and see if the headache is gone.
    • On average, men need to drink 2.5L per day and women need 2L. Coffee/tea/alcoholic drinks do not count towards your fluid intake and you may need more depending on your exercise/activity level and the temperature in your environment. 
  • Avoid overuse of coffee and energy drinks
  • Drink alcohol in moderation & identify if certain brands trigger headaches.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene
  • Eat small healthy meals throughout the day
  • Change body positions often throughout the day especially when working in jobs that require you to sit or stand in one place for long periods
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage your stress levels. Reduce your stressors, meditate & practice mindfulness, yoga, come in for a massage or Vibrosaun, talk to a close friend, spend time in nature… whatever it takes for you to feel grounded and relaxed. 
 

How can Aubin Grove Chiropractic & Wellness help with headaches?

  • Spinal checks performed by our Chiropractor to determine whether our headaches could be caused by subluxations
  • Remedial Massage from one of our qualified Remedial Massage Therapists to address muscular tension and/or dysfunction that may be contributing to your headaches or migraines
  • Vibrosaun Sauna, a safe and effective treatment that combines heat and whole body vibration to assist with decreasing muscular tension, reducing cortisol levels, improve circulation and lymphatic drainage
  • Aromatherapy, the use of essential oils in assisting the treatment of ailments. We stock a wide variety of essential oil and essential oil blends and can assist you in choosing oils which can help with stress relief, headache relief and immune boosting.
  • Postural assessments to assist you in understanding how your postural patterns can be impacting your body. We can provide stretches and exercises for improving posture. 
  • Workstation assessments, we can provide advice and feedback on what you can do to reduce the impact your workstation has on your body.
  • We hold regular Better Results Faster workshops which provide valuable information on how to improve your health and wellbeing.  

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/headache/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050800

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/drinking-water-and-your-health

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