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Headaches & Migraines

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A headache is a type of pain felt in the head or neck region of the body, which is experienced by most people throughout their lifetime. There are hundreds of known kinds of headaches, which are categorised into ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ headache types.

Soft tissue manipulation can help to prevent and manage recurring headaches and migraines.

Quick facts

Extremely common
Low difficulty to treat

Did you know?

About half of all people who get migraines have a family history of them.

source: Bupa

The pain associated with a headache can be described as throbbing, stabbing, sharp, dull or occurring in waves. The most common types of headaches include tension headaches, cluster headaches, sinus headaches and migraine headaches.

Primary headaches are generally harmless and although painful, eventually pass. A secondary headache on the other hand is a symptom of another disease or condition and has the potential to be either benign or dangerous.

Migraines are a particularly painful type of primary headache, which can last anywhere up to 72 hours. People who suffer from migraines often find them to be debilitating and are unable to continue with their usual day-to-day activities.

Migraines are generally accepted as the most ‘severe’ form of headache, and are often accompanied by a variety of symptoms such as nausea, light sensitivity and loss of vision. Sinus headaches are sometimes mistaken for migraines due to the associated fever and facial pressure, however a migraine is generally accepted to be more painful.

People who suffer from frequent migraines often experience a ‘prodrome’ phase, which takes place prior to the migraine itself. They describe symptoms including yawning, neck stiffness, irritability, constipation, food cravings, hyperactivity and depression.

Causes of headaches & migraines

  • Stress
  • Foods and drinks high in tyramine
  • Muscle strain
  • Hormones (particularly in females)
  • Eye, ear, nose and throat illnesses
  • Viral infections
  • Consumption of cold food or drink
  • Lack of sleep
  • Some medications
  • Anxiety
  • Jaw issues
  • Sinus issues
  • Neck pain
  • Head injury

Symptoms of migraines

Knowing the difference between a headache and a migraine can sometimes be tricky, however there are certain symptoms that only occur during a migraine, that can help you to establish which you are suffering from and how best to treat it.

People experiencing a migraine will often report some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Fever
  • Paleness
  • Throbbing pain
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of vision
  • Abdominal pain
  • Light flashes or dots
  • Feelings of warmth or cold

Top tips for preventing headaches & migraines

  • maintaining a healthy diet
  • excluding foods known to trigger headaches from your diet
  • limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake
  • trying to reduce the amount of stress in your life
  • taking some medications
  • getting plenty of sleep
  • ensuring you have good posture

Effective treatment of headaches & migraines

Often headaches are temporary and can be treated quickly and easily with pain killers such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen without too much interruption to your day.

Migraines are usually more severe and may interfere with your day to day activities, but can generally be successfully treated at home – particularly if you have experience with dealing with migraines. Alongside pain medications, the following techniques can also help to ease the pain.

  • Relaxation exercises
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Applying a warm compress to the affected area

For those who experience regular or chronic headaches and migraines, an effective treatment is soft tissue manipulation.

This page has been produced, reviewed and approved by:

Dr Shermain Wong

BAppSc (Chiropractic), Masters (Clinical Chiropractic)

Photo of Dr Shermain Wong

Dr Shermain Wong is a chiropractor at Jurmaine Health with expertise in general treatment and over 6 years experience.

With a Masters in Clinical Chiropractic from RMIT University, Shermain has provided chiropractic and movement rehabilitation services at international sporting competitions, professional dancers, professional football players and professional athletes.

At Jurmaine Health, she helps patients address and treat common musculoskeletal symptoms and conditions, including back pain, neck pain; shoulder pain; nerve pain, joint pain and many other conditions

She is a member of Sport Medicine Australia, College of Osteopathy and Chiropractic Association, Australian Association of Musculoskeletal Medicine and International Society of Clinical Rehabilitation Specialists.

With her experience in Sports Medicine and treating Sports Injuries, she is a sought after expert for professional athletes and sports clubs. She has worked with the Coburg Lions VFL club, Melbourne Ice Hockey Women, World Ironman Championships, Australia CrossFit Regionals and others.

This document was last updated and reviewed in May 2016.

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