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Headaches are defined as one of the most common disorders of the nervous system. It is estimated that 15% of the American population suffers from chronic headaches. Headaches are commonly referred to as migraines, but as you may already know there are many different classifications for headaches, each with very different symptoms. Cotton Chiropractic is here to give you a few symptoms and causes of each type of headache, along with a few of our own chiropractic tips.

Cervicogenic

Symptoms:
Cervicogenic headaches have a similar presentation to migraines as they typically occur on one side of the face or behind one eye. Decreased range of motion is present in the neck and will increase the intensity of the headache when stretched, as neck pain is also perceived in cervicogenic headaches. Occasionally, a person experiencing a cervicogenic headache will have light and sound sensitivities – but with less intensity than those in a migraine.

Causes:
The true cause of cervicogenic headaches is unclear. Spinal nerves from the first three cervical segments (C1-C3) are thought to be involved in the majority of cases regarding cervicogenic headaches.

Tips:
Get adjusted! With the theory behind upper cervical segment irritation, adjustments to the neck and occiput may relieve pressure around these vertebrae and surrounding tissues if they are out of alignment. Light stretching and gentle massage to the neck may reduce spasm and can be completed at home within your own pain tolerance.

Tension

Symptoms:
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Approximately 30-80% of adults experience tension headaches frequently. Common symptoms include mild pain or pressure in the temples, top of the head or base of the skull. Many persons with tension headaches, especially if they have become chronic, will exhibit symptoms of fatigue, irritability, and difficulty falling asleep. Tension headaches most commonly appear later in the day.

Causes:
There are many causes for tension headaches. Most commonly, persons with inadequate rest, poor posture, anxiety, fatigue, overexertion, and stress will experience tension headaches

Tips:
Tension headaches can easily be reduced with changes in lifestyle. Allow your body to heal naturally with adequate amounts of sleep. This may lead to decreased emotional and physical stress and anxiety. With today's increased use of technology, proper posture and ergonomic set-up is very important. Decrease the physical stress on your body by implementing a proper workstation. A proper ergonomic set-up should include an evaluation of the height of your office chair, multiple computer screens, and even sit-stand desks. Of course, get adjusted! Chiropractic adjustments decrease physical stressors caused by misaligned vertebrae that may be the cause of tension headaches. Trigger point therapy and brief massage for muscle relaxation is also a very important piece of the puzzle in reducing tension headaches.

Cluster

Symptoms:
Cluster headaches typically present with a rapid onset and will generally be located in or around one eye. It is common for the duration to range from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The most common age for experiencing a cluster headache is between the ages of 15-40. Person's experiencing a cluster headache may have excessive tearing and redness in their eye. Pale skin, nasal congestion and swelling around the eye may also occur in the event of a cluster headache. Most commonly, a cluster headache will appear one to two hours after going to bed and will wake you from your sleep as pain is typically very severe.

Causes:
The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown. A theory behind the mechanism of cluster headaches suggests hypothalamus (a portion of your brain involved in hormone balance and production) involvement. This is due to the tendency of cluster headaches to occur at similar times each night.

Tips:
When a cluster headache begins, it has been shown that alcohol consumption can intensify the headache. If you experience a cluster headache, avoid any alcohol consumption. Other triggers include the use of nitroglycerin (a drug used to treat heart disease). Contact your medical doctor or pharmacist if you feel the use of these types of medications is initiating cluster headaches.

Sinus

Symptoms:
Sinus headaches are commonly associated with congestion of the nasal passages where pain will be exhibited in the forehead, cheekbones, or bridge of the nose. Pain may intensify with sudden movements of the head. Nasal drainage, fever, and sensations of fullness in the ears or face are common in sinus headaches.

Causes:
Sinus headaches are commonly thought to be caused by allergies. In short, allergies themselves do not cause sinus headaches. Sinus congestion is a common side effect of allergies and when the congestion builds, it may lead to headache-like symptoms. Sinus headaches may occur when your immune system depletes and cold or flu-like symptoms leave you with increased congestion.

Tips:
Natural methods of sinus congestion relief are very beneficial when used correctly. Incorporating garlic into your meals has been shown to decrease sinus pressure. Pressure points throughout the sinuses can be massaged and pumped to manifest nasal drainage. Other natural methods include the use of humidifiers, vaporizers., and neti pots to rinse the sinuses.