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Types of Headaches and Different Treatment Options

Headaches are one of the most common ailments affecting people. In fact, 9 out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches. Different types of headaches require different treatment to get relief. The three most common types of headaches are tension headaches, migraine headaches and sinus headaches. Headaches are often triggered by stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, hunger, caffeine withdrawal and poor postural habits. 

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. These often produce vice like pain on both sides of the head and are usually accompanied by neck and shoulder pain and stiffness. Many people will use over the counter NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, etc to gain some relief. However this approach to relief is often temporary in nature. 

Migraines occur less often than tension headaches, but they are usually much more severe. They are two to three times more common in women than men. Although a migraine can come on without warning, it is often set off by a trigger. Triggers include fatigue, stress, sensory triggers, dietary triggers and more. Some migraine headaches include neurological symptoms referred to as an aura, the majority of migraines do not include and aura. Neurologists believe that migraines are caused by changes in the brain’s blood flow and nerve cell activity. Genetics may play a role since 70% of migraine victims have at least one close relative that also suffer from migraines.

Americans engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as sitting in front of a computer). This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and shoulders. This tension is the leading cause of headaches.  

Physical treatments such as chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture and massage are very effective at helping to provide relief of headaches. A 2014 report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) found that interventions commonly used in chiropractic care improved outcomes for the treatment of acute and chronic neck pain and increased benefit was shown in several instances where a multimodal approach to neck pain had been used. A 2011 study in the same journal found that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, improves migraine and cervicogenic headaches.

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