How can you stop a headache?

November 18, 2022     By: Dr. Sarah Martinez, PT, DPT

Headaches (HAs)-where do they come from and how do we get rid of them?

A headache is defined as pain located above the orbital-meatal line (International Headache Society).  They can be classified into two groups Primary HA's, which are migraines, tension types, and cluster. Migraines can be triggered by environmental, hormonal or genetic factors but a lot is still unknown about the direct cause of them. Secondary HA's are referred pain that comes from the cervical spine by a neck disorder or lesion.  

Around the world 46% of the population is currently dealing with headaches.  Tension type headaches affect 2/3 of men and 80% of women in developed countries around the world.  Out of people who suffer from tension headaches, 60% state their work capacity and social activity is reduced because of their pain.

Let's breakdown the difference between a migraine and a tension headache. Migraines last anywhere from 4-72 hours, affect women more than men, and normally have symptoms involved such as nausea, vomiting, throbbing, aura, light sensitivity, etc. A main sign it is a migraine is if the pain is only one side of your head, pain is moderate or severe, and is aggravated by physical activity such as climbing stairs.

Tension Headaches on the other hand, normally cause pain in the scalp, head, or neck associated with muscle tightness. The pain can feel like a dull pressure, or a tight band. These types of headaches normally happen to those who hold their head in one position too long (like sitting in front of the computer). The duration of these type of HA's can last 30 min to 7 days.  These types of head aches are mild or moderate in intensity, and are not increased by walking or stairs, and are normally on both sides of the head.  There should be no symptoms of vomiting or light/sound sensitivity.

The good news is with tension type headaches...research has shown during and after manual/hands on physical therapy, participants have a significant reduction in headache frequency and improved function of their necks post physical therapy (Castien 2011).  

Can you imagine not having a headache for 2 months?? Or like in the previous study, 6 months?? Call today to have your cervical spine assessed and come in for a free 15 min total body diagnostic exam.

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