According to a report from the Cleveland Clinic, there are more than 150 different classifications of headaches! Many people tend to classify their headaches by the description of their symptoms. There are other people that call their headaches migraines, stress headaches, or sinus headaches no matter what type of headache they have. This leads to a huge amount of confusion about headaches.
What causes a headache to start with? More importantly, why should we care what causes it when all we want is rid of it? Today, we are going to look to give you some answers to those questions and hopefully provide you some insight into the importance of knowing the answers to those questions.
Let’s start by breaking the headaches down into three major groups. I am making my own arbitrary classes to help make classifying headaches easier for the sake of this discussion. My groups are migraine headaches, muscle tension headaches, and illness headaches. I have chosen these three categories because just by looking at those names you have a better idea of the potential causes of the headaches. It also helps that these are names that we all can relate to.
Migraine headaches are the type that are related to a chemical imbalance in the body. Because they are related to the body chemistry, their effect can be far reaching all throughout the body. Muscle tension headaches, or stress headaches, are going to be the ones that are brought on by muscles that are too tight in the neck and shoulders and have a wider range of causes. Illness headaches, or maybe they could be called sick headaches, will cover all the rest of the types of headaches. This type will have a direct and more obvious cause like sinus infections, whiplash injuries, or systemic infections.
These three classifications should help us to understand not only the potential causes of the headaches, but also point us in the direction of things that we can consider as potential triggers. This is important because we can use that information to potentially prevent future headaches as well.
The migraine headache, due to it being a chemical imbalance, will have things like diet and hormonal relationships. The muscle tension headaches would be related to physical or emotional upsets as triggers for those muscular imbalances. The illness headache would be related to traumas or sicknesses as potential triggers. We will delve into those causes in our next blog, but right now I want to talk about what we can do to get immediate relief.
All headaches will have a muscular component. Because we can make mechanical changes that affect muscles, there are three simple actions you can take to help ease your pain immediately.
1. Range of motion movements. Turn your head slowly to the right and then the left to the point of tension. Bring your head back to neutral and slowly move your chin to your chest and then look up to the ceiling. Lean your head to the right and then to the left to the point of tension. Repeat this at least 10 times in each direction several times per day.
2. Improve the blood flow. Either have someone help you or try to do this on your own. Use light to medium pressure and with a flat hand rub your shoulders, neck, and across your collar bones. Improved blood flow through massage will help relax the muscles.
3. Stretches. Sit upright in a chair with the best possible posture. Without bending your neck forward, pull your chin in toward your chest. It will look like someone has a string on the top/back of your head and is pulling it up.
These three muscular movements will help improve blood flow and relax the muscles. When the muscles relax the headache should ease considerably. In our next blog we will look deeper into home remedies and headache prevention steps.