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Treatment For Headaches In Cardiff

Quick Access:

What are the signs and symptoms of headaches?

How many types of headaches are there?

-Tension-type headache
-Cluster headache

-Sinus headache

-TMJ/dental headache

-Rebound headache

-Ice cream headache

-Cold/flu headache

-Altitude headache

-Daily chronic headache

-Allergy headache

-Orgasm/Sex headache

-Epidural headache

-Cervicogenic and arthritis headache

-Goggle headache

-Hangover headache

-Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) headaches

-Temporal Arteritis headache

-Thunderclap headache

-Headache from trigger points

-Tumor/Brain cancer

-Migraines

What are the common headache triggers?

When should I seek medical advice for headaches (red flags)?

How can chiropractic help my headache?

What can I do to prevent headaches myself?

How long will it take for my headaches to feel better?

How much will it cost to treat my headache?

 

If you have ever suffered from a headache then you know very well how debilitating they can be. “ It has been estimated that almost half of the adult population have had a headache at least once within the last year” (WHO 2018). There are multiple types of headaches, all varying in signs and symptoms along with different classifications. I aim to break headaches down into nice easy bite-sized chunks and sections to help you understand headaches better (use the quick access and hyperlinks to save lots of scrolling). We treat some types of headaches here in Cardiff but not all of them. Depending on the signs and symptoms we can either treat headaches, refer to a GP or refer to A&E in very rare cases. We will also talk about the kind of headaches that you should never ignore and seek medical advice for. We also talk about the many triggers or headaches and what you and I can do to relieve a common affliction of modern society. I get migraine headaches myself(very rare now) so I have a special interest in this subject. Grab a cup of tea, get settled and I hope you can gain some valuable information, light bulb moments and solutions if you are a fellow headache sufferer. 

 

What are the signs and symptoms of headaches?

 

There is a multitude of signs and symptoms when it comes to headaches (they can be complex). One headache can have a very different presentation compared to another depending on the person and the type of headache. There are roughly 200 types of headaches which we won’t cover them all, but we will cover the most common ones and a few you have probably never heard of. The following bullet points will is a simpler way to read the signs and symptoms of headaches. 

 

  • Head pain: This can involve a throbbing sensation, tenderness over the scalp, facial numbness/pins and needles, stiffness at the base of the skull. Pressure on the front of the head, sinuses or temples. It’s common to feel pain at the back of the head too. Most headaches will cause pain on one side but some can cause head pain on both sides. 

  • Eye pain: Some headaches will cause a deep pressure/ache, throbbing/stabbing or sharp pain around or in the eye itself. With cluster headaches, patients describe it like a red hot poker in the eye.

  • Visual changes: Loss of vision, auras (changes in perception such as having blind spots, dots, blurriness, and pulsing, seeing zigzag lines, blurriness and watery eyes).

  • Sensory changes: Changes in smell/taste. Hallucinations and auditory hallucinations in rare cases. 

  • Weakness: Some people may experience weakness on one side of the body (hemiparesis). Some headaches can affect one limb or the whole one side of the body. 

  • Nausea: Some headaches can make you feel sick, in more severe cases vomiting can occur.

  • Tiredness and fatigue: Very common with headaches.

  • Head pain during exertion (exertional headache).

  • Cognitive changes: Irritability, slurred speech, forgetfulness, problems concentrating. Syncope (unconsciousness)

Some of the more extreme signs and symptoms are a lot rarer. Seek a medical professional when anything our of the ordinary is happening.

 

How many types of headaches are there?

 

As we mentioned there are many types of headaches. Headaches are broken down into primary and secondary headaches. Primary headaches are benign meaning they are not dangerous and little cause for concern. Secondary headaches can be benign or dangerous depending on the signs and symptoms. Below is a comprehensive list of headaches you may or may not have heard of.

 

Tension-type headache: These primary headaches are the most common type of headache we currently know of. People may feel pressure in the neck muscles including tightness, pressure at the back of the skull either one side or both, pressure behind the eyes either one or both (most commonly one side). Women are affected more than men and affect the teen and adult population. Tension-type headaches can last from 30 minutes to a few hours. Chronic (headaches for longer than 3 months) cases can last for a few days and certain chronic cases will have multiple episodes each month. The cause for tension-type headaches are stress, anxiety, too much screen time, poor sleep, poor nutrition, stiffness of the neck joints, working out too much or too hard, certain smells, bright lights and certain foods such as chocolate. Poor posture is also a big one, especially among office workers (I see these every day). In simple terms, overstrain is the underlying cause of tension-type headaches. If you have read this section then you can probably understand what you need to do to reduce these headaches. Take more breaks from the computer, hydrate better, get good quality sleep and reduce stress levels. And of course, see a chiropractor here in Cardiff. 

 

Cluster headache: Cluster headaches are renowned for being the most painful type of headache there is. Patients experience a quick, intense sharp pain around the eye and facial area on one side including swelling, it will usually affect the same side each time. Episodes generally follow a pattern, striking at similar times of the day, this is scary for the sufferer as it is a debilitating pain that stops them in their tracks. Patients may experience drooping of the eyelid, face pain on that side, perspiration on the same side as the pain, eye redness/bloodshot, watery eye, and congested sinuses. The pain can be so intense that sufferers of cluster headaches have been known to hit there head against a wall to try and escape the pain. Luckily cluster headaches are quite rare, affecting men more than women 4:1. The average age for cluster headaches is between 20-40. Patients can get cluster headaches up to 8 times a day lasting from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Some cases of cluster headaches can last weeks and months at a time following a remission. Some people have had many years of cluster headache-free (remission). Cluster headache are most common in spring and autumn. The cause of cluster headaches is not fully known. Scientists have found a link with a part of the brain called the hypothalamus which governs the circadian clock or biological clock. Dilation of the blood vessels affects the trigeminal nerve which is responsible for the sensation of the eye cheek and jaw area. It’s this nerve that is driving the pain. Another issue called trigeminal neuralgia is also another very painful condition with similar intense pain levels. It is believed to have a hereditary link so it can be passed down through the family in some cases. These cases need to be seen by a neurologist for further investigation. Oxygen therapy is a preferred treatment technique along with steroid injections. 

 

Sinus headache: A sinus headache usually occurs during or after a cold or flu. They can easily be mistaken for a migraine, as the symptoms overlap quite closely. Symptoms include pressure around the cheeks, nose, eye and forehead both sides, congestion is normal and pain can get worse when bending forward to pick something up or for example changing bedding. A migraine will not produce green/yellow mucous where a sinus issue will. Also, a sinus headache will last longer than a migraine, which is a good indicator of a sinus headache. Most people will get better but some people develop chronic sinusitis which will increase sinus frequency of sinus headaches. Reducing caffeine, alcohol and leading a healthy lifestyle appears to be the best treatment. Long term medications such as steroid sprays can cause rebound sinusitis and headaches causing a perpetual cycle of headaches. Trying natural remedies like saline solution sprays instead of steroids and riding it out is a much better alternative for long term relief. Chiropractic can work on the cranial bones and in many cases bring about relief. Unfortunately for chronic sufferers, they may only get a few days of relief. 

 

TMJ/dental headache: The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is a small joint and also one of the most active (we talk and chew a lot). The TMJ is responsible for the opening and closing of the mouth, side to side, back and forth, talking, chewing and grinding. It can be a pain-sensitive joint consisting of a small disc, ligaments, and muscles. It is the muscles of the TMJ that can cause the headache via a muscle referral pattern. Most TMJ headaches are referred from the muscles of the jaw to the temples. The joint itself can degenerate from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The small disc that lies in-between the joint can become displaced causing jaw lock. Jaw disorders such as an overbite and underbite can irritate the TMJ and cause tension in the chewing and talking muscles. Grinding teeth, especially during sleep is one of the main causes of TMJ dysfunction. Pain can be felt around the jaw, sometimes the jaw will lock, tinnitus can occur and headaches around the temples are fairly common. Treatment can be performed by chiropractors in many cases, some cases will need surgery. Many people experience jaw pain after visiting a dentist as the mouth can be open for long periods at a time straining the structures of the TMJ. Some people need counseling like CBT as the pain can cause stress and anxiety. Pain medication may be beneficial in the short term but is unsuccessful in cases of long term TMJ issues.

 

Rebound headache: These headaches are caused by the overuse of medication. Pain-relieving medications especially ones with caffeine in are designed for short term pain relief. Unfortunately, chronic sufferers feel the need to keep taking the medication because they keep getting headaches. Once they stop taking medication then they can get a headache from withdrawal causing a perpetual cycle. Depending on the medication being taken, supervised detox is a common way to prevent the cycle of chronic headaches. The side effects of medication are usually worse than the headache itself in most cases. Speak to your doctor if you feel you are in this cycle, and never just stop taking your prescribed medication without consulting your prescribing doctor first. There is lots of help out there to help break the cycle.

 

Ice cream headache: AKA “brain freeze”, or a cold stimulus headache. I’m sure most people have experienced this at one time or another, especially as a child. A hot sunny day, thirsty and hungry, an overzealous mouthful of ice cream followed by an intense cold headache. These are short-lived discomforts and believed to be caused by the cold ice cream contracting and dilating the blood vessels in the roof of the mouth. The brain interprets this as pain through the activation of the trigeminal nerve. This is not a serious headache and can be prevented by eating less quickly and less in quantity at a time. Fun fact: Cats can get brain freeze too.

 

Cold/flu headache: Most of the pain in the head from cold and flu is caused an increase in pressure due to blocked and congested sinuses. Our sinuses are a network of small like tunnels for the smooth flow of oxygen. When our sinuses are blocked we get a little less oxygen which can add to a headache. When we are ill we produce molecules called cytokines to fight infection. These molecules can produce inflammation which causes a headache. The best cure is time. Another top tip is to not blow your nose too hard, some believe that not blowing at all prevents the infection from going deeper into the sinuses causing sinusitis. So be gentle with your nose, use natural treatments such as steaming under a towel and putting your head in a position that gives you more freedom to breathe. Steroid sprays are ok for a few days but the likelihood of rebound is very common because it is a "cheap fix". It has been reported that nasal sprays can be addictive, another reason to use them sparingly. 

 

Altitude headache: “ is the most common neurological symptom and complication, arising from ascent to altitudes greater than 2500 to 3000 meters. Until recently there have been few systematic attempts to define the clinical features of high altitude headache (HAH) and only a small number of trials of therapies, which at times yielded conflicting results. Most descriptions of HAH originated with doctors who had extensive personal experience of it at altitude.” If the headache fades away during decent then the most likely diagnosis is an altitude headache. This is one of the first warning signs of altitude sickness. Either stay and acclimatize if it is safe to do so or slowly go back down to a safe zone and acclimatize there.

 

Daily chronic headache: This is an umbrella term for the chronicity of any type of headache that occurs 15 days per month for a duration of six months. Many are tension-type headaches but any long term headache should be referred to a GP for an accurate diagnosis. One of the main causes of daily chronic headaches is medication overuse as we described with rebound headaches. Obesity, caffeine, undiagnosed anxiety, stress, and poor sleep are the other main causes of daily chronic headaches. Due to the debilitating nature of chronic headaches, it is worth trying as many natural techniques before the use of medication. Chiropractic is a great alternative to medication as we use natural techniques here in Cardiff like acupuncture, muscle relaxation, and spinal manipulation. We also help with advice on stress reduction, posture and getting people back to exercise regularly, and living a healthy life.

 

Allergy Headache: Although headaches and hay fever do not seem to go hand in hand they can happen. Hay fever can produce stress from the discomfort, poor sleep due to congestions, sneezing and watery eyes. Often people can become dehydrated during the hot summer months exposing them to migraine headaches. Allergies also include food triggers such as cheese, chocolate, and artificial sweeteners. During an allergic reaction, the body produces histamines, these histamines can cause low blood pressure causing headaches. If you are a moderate to severe hay fever sufferer then it is advised to start taking an antihistamine 2-3 months before allergy symptoms. This helps prime the body before hay fever symptoms take hold. If food triggers are a cause of your headaches then finding a good nutritionist will be able to give you a food allergy test. You can then eliminate the right foods. Some people have adopted an anti-inflammatory diet which involves cutting out any foods, fruit, and veg that are known to cause inflammation in the body. The key here is prepping and being careful about what we are ingesting. 

 

Orgasm/Sex headache: Not too common but an issue for some people. It can develop in men and women but men are affected more. Head pain can either be a dull pressure that builds and reaches it’s peak during an orgasm and can fade in a few minutes, hours or even a few days. Another type of sex headache is a sudden throbbing pain during the point of orgasm. A severe case may cause unconsciousness, a stiff neck and or vomiting. If you have never had a sex/orgasm headache before then it is advised to see a GP if this is new to you. Most orgasm headaches are nothing to worry about but there could be an underlying issue that needs to be investigated. Breathing techniques can be adopted to reduce pressure in the body and head and good communiation during intercourse.

 

Epidural headache: An epidural involves placing a needle into the spinal column and spinal cord to deliver medication to block pain. There is a 1 in 200 chance of developing a headache a few days or a week later. People describe them as “the worst hangover ever”. The brain and spinal cord is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (CFS) encased in a sac-like structure which acts as a pressure system. If the needle punctures too deep into the spinal cord then CFS can leak fluid decreasing pressure. This pressure drop is what causes a severe headache. They can take a few weeks to ease off as the puncture heals. Some cases may need further intervention like a blood patch. Advice is to not lift anything heavy and to not strain, even going to the toilet should be done with ease. Lying flat on your back will ease the pressure and warm liquids such as tea will help sooth. If you have had a lumbar puncture and are worried make an appointment to see your GP.

 

Cervicogenic and arthritis headache: This is a common yet under diagnosed headache. Cervicogenic headaches are caused by issues in the neck joints which can refer pain to the shoulder area, stiffness, face pain on one side, discomfort down one arm, eye pain on one side, nausea, blurred vision and sensitivity to bright light. If you have read any of the above then you can see there are crossovers with tension-type headaches and migraines. Cervicogenic headaches are secondary headaches meaning they can be caused by other underlying problems. Most cases are due to people overworking/straining, especially in an office, sitting for long periods. Barbers and laborers are also susceptible to overstraining due to the nature of repetitive work. This may lead to a speed-up and progression of osteoarthritis which is a normal part of the aging process and also a cause of cervicogenic headaches. Whiplash is another cause of cervicogenic headaches. Us chiropractors in Cardiff see these issues a lot. Treatment helps to normalize the function of the neck joints, muscles, and aids in the fluid movement of the joints that we need to stay free of headaches and pain. 

 

Goggle headache: AKA swimmers headache, or supraorbital neuralgia. A goggle headache (primary) occurs when either the goggles or the swimming hat is too tight. The tightness of the rubber compresses the nerves in the forehead causing pain and even sensitivity just by touching the hair and scalp. The pain usually dissipates after an hour of removing the goggles or swimming hat.

 

Hangover headache: Not many people in adulthood can say they have never had a hangover. For some, it’s enough for them to say “I am never drinking again”. Alcohol may feel good at the time but it is, in fact, a toxin. Alcohol is poisonous because of the substance, ethanol. The alcohol causes dehydration, tiredness, nausea and in severe cases vomiting. People report feeling a deep pressure all over the head, throbbing and pulsing and pain with sudden movement and exertion. Drinking water between alcoholic beverages and eating regularly is a good deterrent for a hangover. Or if this went completely out of the window then still try and eat something small with plenty of carbohydrates, try electrolyte gel pack to restore all of the goodness lost and sleep more. Or you could just drink within your limits.

 

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) headaches: IIH is a secondary headache caused by raised spinal fluid pressure. Pain is usually a dull ache at the back of the head reportedly worse in the evenings and mornings. Eye pain is common and vomiting in some cases. Obesity is a causative factor, some antibiotic medication, being pregnancy or a congenital deformity of certain blood vessels are linked to IIH. A lumbar puncture can be performed to reduce the spinal fluid pressure. Diet and lifestyle changes are needed if IIH is caused by obesity. Left untreated it can cause blindness.

 

Temporal Arteritis headache: This is a secondary headache caused by the inflammation of the temporal artery. People with this condition can get eye pain, red eyes, and vision loss if not treated. Pain around the temple as tenderness and sometimes burning pain is indicative of temporal arteritis. Only one side is usually affected. Steroid medications are the main go-to for treatment. Polymyalgia rheumatica is linked with temporal arteritis. 

 

Thunderclap headache (Seek medical treatment right away): These headaches strike very quickly and reach a peak in 60 seconds. Thunderclaps are secondary headaches that could be a blood clot, brain tumor, brain bleed, severe infection, bleeding of the pituitary gland, very high blood pressure or ischaemic stroke. Symptoms are severe, causing vomiting, changes in mental state and seizures. Ring the emergency services straight away and listen and follow their advice.

 

Headache from trigger points: Similar to tension-type headache. Trigger points are a hypersensitive tender point within a part of a muscle. They can become irritable and sensitized, producing pain to other areas of the body. Many muscles in and around the neck and head can refer pain to different areas of the head causing a perceived headache. It is important to do a thorough examination to find these trigger points. If missed they may never be found and the sufferer could keep experiencing headaches for years to come. Acupuncture, stretching, and strengthening is a quick and effective treatment for trigger points. 

 

Tumor/Brain cancer: One of the rarer causes of secondary headaches. There are a multitude of different types of brain tumors from benign (no danger) to malignant (dangerous). Often headaches are the only symptoms of a brain tumor. Symptoms include pain above the eye, epileptic fits, vomiting, loss of consciousness and loss of power/weakness in an arm. Some people may also experience changes in personality and issues with speech such as forgetting words and slurring. Radiotherapy/chemotherapy and surgery is a common treatment. Any of the above should be seen as an emergency.

 

Migraines: Can be broken down into subcategories as there are differentiating factors. Signs and symptoms can vary from mild to severe, a mild hindrance to debilitating life-changing pain. Migraines are primary headaches and it is still up for debate to what causes them. One theory is that it is a neurovascular issue where blood vessels become inflamed causing the actual pain and disturbances. Some believe it is a genetic disorder and some believe it is an issue with a part of the brain called the cerebral cortex, causing a faulty control of the neurons responsible for pain. The brain itself cannot feel pain, which seems strange to hear. Nociceptors are the pain-sensing nerves that exit out of the spinal cord. If we prick our finger with a needle it is the perception of pain created by these nociceptors that the brain interprets. This is why patients can have brain surgery while awake with no pain at all. Migraines have four phases each with their own characteristic. People who get regular migraines can notice certain changes happening before the actual pain starts to kick in. The phases are broken down into the following.

 

  • Prodrome: This is the beginning of a migraine which can produce strange symptoms such as feeling depressed, irritable, euphoric, cravings for certain foods, fatigue, bowel discomfort and stiff muscles in the neck. This shows in 60% of migraine sufferers.

  • Aura: This is the next phase of a migraine that preludes the headache pain. An aura is a sensory disturbance that may last up to an hour. Sufferers can experience visual changes such as blurriness, strange patterns in the center field of vision spreading to the outside of the visual field. Flashes and sparkles of light in the visual fields also. Some people may get full loss of vision in one eye. Pins and needles may be felt in the arm and face and in some cases motor weakness of an arm or weakness of the whole one side of the body. Less common symptoms are hallucinations and auditory hallucinations. If you are experiencing any symptoms of auras that you have never had before, see a medical professional to rule out anything that could be potentially dangerous. 

  • Pain: Migraine pain predominantly affects one side of the head, throbbing, pulsing, a deep ache which comes on gradually. It can affect the back and the top of the head depending on the type of migraine. Some migraines can last 1 hour to 72 hours. The frequency of migraines varies from 1-2 times a year to 1 a month. Nausea is common and affects up to 90% of people, vomiting affects around 1/3 rd of people. Sensitivity to light, sound and smell is very common. Bowel issues such as diarrhea and frequent urination, and nasal congestion is also problematic often getting diagnosed as sinusitis rather than migraine. Sweating can occur in some cases of migraine.

  • Postdrome: This is a phase where the worst of the migraine has gone but left with lingering effects. Many people feel tired and mild pain where the more intense pain was. Some people can feel euphoric and full of energy after a migraine. Depression after a migraine is more common for people and can take a few days to get back to normal.

 

Types of Migraine:

 

Migraine with aura (classic migraine): Includes all the phases of migraine, prodrome, aura, pain, and postdrome.

 

Migraine without aura (common migraine): This migraine will give a person migraine pain without the sensory disturbances.

 

Familial hemiplegic migraine: AKA FHM, can be very severe and debilitating. FHM sufferers can develop weakness on one side of the body (hemiparesis) that can last for days, or hours, or even weeks. Visual problems, confusion, and coma in less common cases. Currently it is believed to be a genetic disorder with a familial link (runs in families). These migraines can be confused for as a stroke but in most cases familial hemiplegic migraine improves in 24 hours, where a stroke would not. There are not too many treatment options for these migraines. Contact sports are to be avoided as minor knocks to the head are known to be a trigger. The medication acetazolamide is used to treat FHM.

 

Sporadic hemiplegic migraine: This is the same as FHM but without the familial link. This cause is currently completely unknown.

 

Acephalgic migraine (silent migraine): This is a migraine without the headache pain but still having the symptoms of an aura (sensory disturbances). A silent migraine will still affect vision, speech, cognitive function and sensory issues such as pins and needles. Attacks can last between 5 minutes to an hour. There is no defined medication for silent migraines, but ketamine seems to have has the best results so far. It is reported that people who have migraine with aura have a higher risk of stroke. It is important to see a doctor if you have had these issues and have not had it diagnosed accurately.

 

Eye/retinal migraine: These migraines can cause visual loss and blurring. They can be primary or secondary and caused by the narrowing of the blood vessels at the back of the eye. Causes are exercise/exertion, smoking, high blood pressure, stress, contraceptive pill, dehydration, and high altitude. Leading a healthy lifestyle is the best treatment for retinal migraines and removing the known triggers.

 

Vestibular migraine: The vestibular system is concerned with the function of the inner ear. Dizziness is a product when this system is out of kilter. It is up for debate whether this is a true migraine but it is reported that many migraine sufferers can get dizziness. This could mean lightheadedness, giddiness and a sense of spinning feelings. People who suffer from motion sickness are more likely to experience vestibular issues. There are a few conditions that can cause dizziness that should be ruled out before a diagnosis of vestibular migraine.

 

Menstrual migraine: These can occur just before, during or just after the menstruation cycles. They are generally harder to treat and can be purely because of menstruation and not occur at any other time of the year. It is not clear what causes menstrual migraines. Some women will get migraines with or without aura. They generally last longer than other migraines. Anti-inflammatories and antidepressants are used widely for menstrual migraines.

 

What are the common headache triggers?

 

As you can see from the above there are many types of headaches and migraines. And most of them have triggers, meaning either environmental, sensory, emotional, physical and natural causes may trigger headaches and migraines. See below the many triggers of headaches:

 

  • Emotional: Stress, bereavement, psychological trauma, abuse, anxiety/panic/PTSD, depression, poor sleep.

  • Foods: Chocolate, strong/aged cheeses, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine, citrus fruits, dried fruits, dried fish, foods rich in salt (causes dehydration), pickled and fermented foods and skipping meals (intermittent fasting). (all the good stuff aye!)

  • Physical: Poor posture, eye strain (too much phone, computer and tablet time), osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, facet joint dysfunction, head trauma/whiplash, sleeping awkwardly, jet lag.

  • Sensory: Smells and aromas (perfume, strong-smelling foods), bright lights, flashing lights.

  • Biological: Systemic diseases (heart disease), tumor, infection, bacterial, viral.

 

When should I seek medical advice for headaches (red flags)?

 

Headaches, in most cases, are nothing to be concerned about. They can though, in some instances be a warning sign that there may something more severe and dangerous underlying. Brain tumors, strokes, trauma, and infections are the most severe cause of headaches. Shown below describe the conditions to see a medical professional.

 

  • A new headache over the age of 50 (especially if there has never been a headache).

  • A severe and sudden headache (worst headache ever).

  • Headaches that are getting worse and more severe.

  • A new headache with a previous pathology such as cancer of HIV.

  • Headaches with severe neck pain/stiffness, fever, chills (meningitis).

  • Neurological symptoms: Weakness, numbness, losing consciousness, visual loss, cognitive disturbance.

  • Headache following trauma.

  • Pupil changes: If one pupil is smaller or larger than the other.

 

If any of the above are affecting you, do not hang about hoping it will go away. Seek medical advice right away. With the advances in modern medicine, the outlook is better than ever. If there is something serious then at least you will be in the right hands and getting the treatment that you need.

 

How can chiropractic help my headaches here in Cardiff?

 

Headaches are very common in the clinic here in Cardiff. It is important to know when to treat a headache and when to refer out to a specialist or a GP. The headaches we can help treat are tension-type headaches, cervicogenic headaches, migraine prevention, headaches caused by cervical joint degeneration such as osteoarthritis and trigger point headaches. Other headaches are looked at on a case by case basis. The main aim is to find triggers that the patient may not be aware of and filter them out. We can help with advice on sleep quality and sleep position. We can help with stress reduction. We can help with emotional support if need be by referring to our CBT and mental health contacts. We work on the neck and head muscles providing much-needed relief with massage, active release, and stretching techniques. We use spinal manipulation to release joint tension and cervical joint traction for the same purpose. Acupuncture is also a brilliant treatment for headaches in particular. Home exercises are also an important addition to reduce muscle tension, improved strength, combining it all for pain relief. Tension-type headaches are the most seen headaches is chiropractic offices. Long hours behind a desk looking at computer screens is a nice cocktail for tension-type headaches. Please look at our tips below for preventing headaches.

 

What can I do to prevent headaches myself?

 

If you have read all of the above then hats off to you, it is a lot of information. To be honest, I had a mild headache after researching, writing and designing all of the pictures. But, it is gone now because I knew the best tips to reduce it and make it go away. See the bullet points below to help you along with your headache.

 

  • Get enough sleep: Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night, poor sleep is a big driver of headaches. This also means sleeping in the right position for you (a position that is comfortable), with the right thickness pillow. Depending on if you sleep on your side, back or front. If your mattress is over 5-6 years old it is time to get a new one. A bath an hour before bedtime has shown to help with good sleep. Switch of all bright screen gadgets 2 hours before bedtime. Read a paper book instead. Practice 10 minutes mindfulness an hour before bedtime, this will help relax and reduce any worries that could cycle in your head for hours reducing your sleep quality.

  • Eat healthily: Good food = good sleep, if certain foods trigger your headaches then avoid those even if they are healthy ones.

  • Drink plenty of water: dehydration is a big trigger for headaches. People are very busy these days so make sure you always have an eco-friendly bottle with you at all times. Sip, don’t gulp as this can shock the system or even give you a brain freeze headache if the water is too cold. Add a bit of lemon (if it is not a citrus trigger) for a bit of extra flavor.

  • Exercise: Yes exertional exercise headaches are real, but if this is not a cause for your headache then exercise will help you use up any energy for better quality sleep, not to mention it is good for your body, mind, cardiovascular system and overall health.

  • See a chiropractor: Often people come to us Cardiff chiropractors after they have tried everything else. Many people are surprised at how much our manual treatment helps their various headaches.

  • Reduce stress: Another big cause of headaches is stress. It is on the increase due to the complex nature of hour lives. Social media (comparing ourselves to other peoples), bills, relationships, climate change, poverty, human rights. There is a lot to think about. Practice mindfulness and exercise regularly as mentioned. Reducing stress will help prevent systemic diseases, increase sleep quality and help deliver a sense of well-being.

 

How long will it take for my headaches to feel better?

 

Most cases will take anywhere between a week to a month to improve and reduce the frequency of headaches. It is important to stick with treatment as it may take up to four sessions to notice improvements. As we alter the mechanics of the neck and work on the muscles it takes time for the treatment to take effect. Imagine taking a course of antibiotics for a kidney infection. If you stopped halfway through then it’s unlikely the kidney infection is going to go away. It can be frustrating to wait for treatment to take hold but the people who do stick to the treatment plan are living a happier and better quality of life.

 

How much will it cost to treat my headache?

 

This depends on how long a course we advise, there are no contracts and people are free to stop care when they wish. You can see hour prices here. If you have had a chronic headache then a block plan is recommended to get enough treatments in and it will also spread the cost.

 

I thank you for reading this page. It took many weeks to research the latest evidence-based literature on headaches. If you feel we have missed anything out, please get in contact so we can update what I think is a wiki of information on headaches.

 

 

References:

 

1. https://headacheaustralia.org.au/types-of-headaches/

2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tension-headaches/

3. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/cluster-headache/#causes

4. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/temporomandibular-disorders-and-headache/

5. https://www.codral.com.au/cold-and-flu-symptoms/headache#headache-symptoms

6. https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/types-of-migraine/other-headache-disorders/high-altitude-headache/

7. https://www.pat.nhs.uk/downloads/patient-information-leaflets/anaesthetics/headache-after-an-epidural-or-spinal-anaesthetic.pdf

8. https://headaches.org/resources/the-complete-headache-chart/

9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migraine#Classification

10.  https://www.brainfacts.org/ask-an-expert/if-the-brain-cant-feel-pain-why-do-i-get-headaches

11. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/silent-migraine/

12. https://migraineagain.com/10-types-of-migraine-which-do-you-have/

13. https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/vestibular-migraines#1

14. https://vestibular.org/migraine-associated-vertigo-mav

15: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/0215/p685.html 

16: https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/migraine-triggers-your-personal-checklist 

17: Garza I, Schwedt TJ, Robertson CE, Smith JH. Headache and other craniofacial pain. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 103. 

18: MacGregor EA. Menstrual migraine. Curr Opin Neurol. Jun 2008;21(3):309-15. 

19: Barbanti P, Fabbrini G, Pesare M, Cerbo R. Neurovascular symptoms during migraine attacks. Cephalalgia. 2001 May 1;21(4) 

20: Gay RE, Nelson CF. Clinical efficacy of chiropractic treatment. In: Wainapel SF, Fast A, editors. Alternative Medicine and Rehabilitation: A Guide for Practitioners. New York: Demos Medical Publishing; 2003. pp. 67–71 

21: https://www.statista.com/topics/1974/headache-and-migraine/ 

22. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/headache-disorders 

23. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2019.01220/full

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