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Common Types of Headaches

woman with headache
You or someone you love may have experienced headaches. It may have been a passing feeling that only happened a handful of times or it may be something that is constantly recurring in nature.

One thing is for certain: There is no such thing as a “normal” headache.

It’s fascinating what our bodies can get used to. Having an ache or pain for a long period of time can make it so that it feels normal – because you can’t remember not having it. However, it is almost always pointing to an underlying cause that should properly be examined and addressed.

To properly diagnose your headache, our chiropractors will often evaluate the following details:

  • Intensity
  • Location
  • Frequency
  • Cause

Based on the above criteria, headaches are divided into two types: Primary & Secondary.

A primary headache is the most common type and occurs when there is no underlying disease or illness contributing to it. The pain associated with primary headaches is caused by the inflammation of pain-sensitive parts of the body in and around the neck and head, including:

  • Nerves
  • Blood vessels
  • Muscles
  • Joints

Even if these structures are the cause of the headache, your triggers can be many. Some people get primary headaches due to stress while others may get it due to poor posture, dietary sensitivities and previous traumas. Just trying to avoid these triggers is not an appropriate strategy. The structures contributing to the cause need to be treated to eliminate the headache. This is where we can help.

A secondary headache is caused by another condition that triggers pain-sensitive areas in the neck and head. Secondary headaches are rare, but they can also be much more serious than primary headaches. Secondary headaches can be a warning sign of a more serious underlying condition, including:

  • Brain tumors
  • Aneurysm
  • Meningitis, a bacterial or viral infection causing inflammation of the brain
  • Neck or brain injury

Secondary headaches typically start out of nowhere and are excruciating. When we suspect a secondary headache, a referral to another health care provider for advanced imaging might be appropriate.

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