A headache is pain in any region of the head or neck. It is a rather non-specific symptom and can be the result of a rather large number of conditions. There are 4 main types of headaches, which are:
An intermittent headache characterized by a band of pain around the head, where sufferers commonly complain about feeling like their head is ‘in a vice’. The pain is even all around the head, with no aversions to light/sound. It affects males more than females and young adults are the most common age group. They typically last anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 days. Risk factors or causes include emotional/physical stresses, poor posture, depression, previous history of neck injuries, very tight/hypertonic muscles of the neck and shoulders
Episodic periods of headaches of around 1-8 headaches per day, lasting anywhere form 7-12 months. Pain is usually felt behind the eye and in the temporal region. Causes are thought to include hormonal imbalances and poor vascular flow. They are rapid onset in nature, always one sided and commonly described as having a constant, boring, deep ache. The attacks are associated with 1 or more of the following:
- Nasal congestion
- Nasal dripping
- Forehead and facial sweating
- Eyelid swelling
- Drooping of the eyelid
Head pain originating from the cervical spine and localized to the neck and base of the skull. Pain is aggravated or caused by specific neck movements or sustained postures and may radiate from the base of the skull up around the ears to the forehead. It is more common in females than males and especially those with poor posture and sedentary lifestyles. Sufferers will often complain of these headaches worsening throughout the day, and will usually be relieved by rest. Stress can also be a contributing factor. The cause of cervicogenic headaches is hypertonic/tight muscles in the head/neck becoming fatigued. This sends messages of pain to the brain causing the above mentioned symptoms.
Migraines are a neurological form of headache characterized by recurrent episodes of headache, most often unilateral in nature and commonly associated with visual or sensory disruption, as well as nausea and vomiting. There is a large genetic predisposition to headaches with females more affected than females, and often they can begin as soon as the child hits puberty. The head pain is usually severe in nature and is report as having a throbbing or pounding feeling. They can also be compounded by cervical dysfunction. During attacks the pain will build up over 1-2 hours and last anywhere from 4-72 hours. Physical activity and movement worsens the symptoms with many people preferring to lie in a dark room during attacks. Aversion to light/sound is also common as well as visual loss in the form of white spots or zig zag lines.