There are few things more important than having a clear head, but the pain caused by headaches can make it impossible to think clearly. An occasional headache may only be a nuisance, but when they become frequent, they can get in the way of leading a full and active life.

What is a headache?

We all know what a headache feels like, but what actually is a headache? Simply put it’s a general term that refers to any pain that occurs anywhere in the head. This pain may be in only one part of the head, or it may be more widespread. It can also vary considerably in intensity. There are several different types of headaches, such as tension headaches, migraines, sinus headaches, and cluster headaches. Here is a description of two of the most common types:

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and typically cause mild to moderate pain. This type of headache generally causes pain on both sides of the head. The pain tends to cause an aching feeling or sensation of pressure. It is sometimes described as feeling as if the head is in a vice.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are the second most common type of headache and cause moderate to severe pain. Migraine pain is often felt as a throbbing or pulsating pain and may continue for anywhere from four to seventy-two hours. This can be a long time to be in pain and many people become bedridden during an attack.  A migraine headache can also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light.

What are the most common symptoms of headaches?

The most common symptom of a headache is pain that occurs in the head. This pain may vary depending on the type of headache you experience. It could be a dull ache, throbbing pain, or feel like a vice is squeezing your head. Some headaches can also cause symptoms that extend beyond the head area, with nausea, light sensitivity, and a feeling of restlessness among common headache complaints.

What typically causes a headache?

There are many potential causes of headaches, such as stress, lack of sleep, hormones, changing weather, alcohol or tobacco consumption, poor posture, or an underlying illness. Stress is a very common cause of headaches. One of the main causes of tension headaches, the most common type of headache, is tense neck and scalp muscles, which can be caused by stress and anxiety, as well as other issues.

How can chronic headaches impact your daily life?

Chronic headaches can have a large impact on your daily life. They can cause depression, anxiety, and behavioral changes. Having chronic headaches can also have negative effects on your relationships and career. Chronic migraines can affect most areas of your life and make it nearly impossible to continue on with your day when a migraine strikes.

What are common treatments for frequent headaches?

Conventional headache treatments can vary depending on the type of headache, with over-the-counter and prescription medication most frequently used.

Treatments for Tension Headaches

The most common treatments for tension headaches are over-the-counter drugs, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen. However, some people who have chronic tension headaches may be prescribed a tricyclic antidepressant. Cognitive behavioral therapy is sometimes recommended for reducing the stress that may cause tension headaches.

Treatments for Migraine Headaches

The treatment for migraines is typically geared toward relieving symptoms and preventing further headaches. It is often recommended that you learn what tends to trigger your migraines and avoid these triggers if possible so as to avoid the migraines. However, if you do get a migraine, some treatments might include lying down in a dark, quiet room and placing cold or hot compresses on you’re your head or neck. Massage or over-the-counter medication may be recommended as well.

Prescription medications may also be prescribed. These prescription medications include calcium channel blockers, triptans, gepants, beta-blockers, anti-seizure medications, dihydroergotamine, and more.

What are the drawbacks/side effects of traditional treatments?

Many conventional treatments, such as OTC and prescription medication simply provide a band-aid effect, which masks the pain of the headache, rather than address the underlying cause. Additionally, if medication is used, both over-the-counter and prescription medications have side effects. Over-the-counter medications can cause a variety of side effects, from minor stomach irritation to serious issues, such as liver and heart problems.

Prescription medications carry their own side effects as well. Triptans, for example, can cause dizziness, nausea, muscle weakness, and tightness in the throat. In rare cases these drugs can even cause chest pains. Similarly, anti-seizure medications may cause dizziness, fatigue, or blurred vision and their risks include damage to the liver and pancreas.

How can chiropractic care help alleviate chronic headache pain?

Unlike convention treatments, chiropractic care focuses on addressing the underlying cause of headaches. This requires getting to know a patient, spending time to learn their lifestyle and possible headache triggers. Our chiropractors work to help alleviate chronic headache pain by using a number of treatments. Evidence suggests that chiropractic care can improve some types of headaches, in ways simple pain killing medications cannot. There are several types of treatments that chiropractors use to treat headaches, including:

  • Chiropractic Adjustments: These adjustments can reduce stress and joint irritation. This helps improve spinal function and reduce inflammation.
  • Soft Tissue Therapy: This form of therapy can help patients relax and reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches.
  • Nutritional Recommendations: Food sensitivities and nutrition deficiencies are both associated with headaches. We help you identify potential triggers so you can adjust your diet accordingly.
  • Lifestyle Advice: Our chiropractors are trained in providing a holistic approach that takes your whole body and entire life into account when providing treatment. We are happy to offer advice on which changes in your life that help reduce the frequency and intensity of your headaches. These can include teaching you relaxation techniques as well as ways to improve your posture

Drug-Free Relief for Frequent Headaches in North Jersey

If you suffer from chronic headaches, you know how they can get in the way of life and put you on the sidelines instead of center stage. Don’t let a headache ruin your productivity and enjoyment of life. Here at Oakland Spine & Physical Therapy, our highly-trained chiropractors can help alleviate the pain of headaches and reduce the number of headaches you get without the need for drugs that carry risks and side effects. Ready to improve your quality of life and reduce the pain of frequent headaches? We’re ready to help!

Chiropractic and Physical Therapy Treatment for Headaches & Migraines in New Jersey

Serving Bergen and Passaic County from our Oakland, Wayne, Fair Lawn, and Closter, NJ Offices