This month we focus on what has become a growing problem for our patients – headaches (HA).

90% of all HA are primary HA, usually appearing between the ages of 20 – 40 years old. The most common types of primary HA are migraines and tension-type HA (as printed in the textbook “Evaluation & Management of Headache”). They each have different characteristics.

Migraines typically present with pulsing head pain, nausea, difficulty tolerating bright light and difficulty tolerating noise. The traditional theory of migraines suggested that they were the result of a problem with blood flow through the small blood vessels of the brain. Migraines are now thought to be caused by an irritation of the nerves in the brain (as published in the journal “Brain”).

Tension-type HA usually present with a non-pulsing “band-like” pressure on both sides of the head, not accompanied by other symptoms (as published in the Journal of the American Medical Association).

Another (less common) type of primary HA is a Cluster HA, characterised by short episodes (15 minutes – 3 hours) of severe pain, usually around one eye, which occur at the same time every day (printed in the textbook Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine).

The other form of HA would be secondary HA. These can be caused by problems elsewhere in the head or neck. One of the non-threatening secondary HA is cervicogenic (coming from the neck) which are frequently encountered in chiropractic clinics and resolved quite successfully through chiropractic management. Another non-threatening secondary HA is due to medication overuse (according to the UK NHS). One possible indication that your HA is due to medication overuse would be that your HAs are getting worse with the continuation of the medication.

Your chiropractor is trained to recognise the difference between these two benign secondary HAs. You will be referred to your GP if your HA appears to be medication related, and your chiropractor can successfully manage your HA if it is due to a problem in your neck.

However, there are other more serious causes of secondary HA. The university chiropractic programs devote considerable time and resources to the study of differential diagnosis and “red flag” identification. This allows your chiropractor to determine the cause of your HA, whether it poses a potential threat to you or not, and make the appropriate medical referral if required.

With the widespread utilisation of computers, tablets and smart phones, patients are spending much more time in front of screens, monitors and electronic devices. This had led to an increase in the reported incidence of neck pain and HA in Australia. Is it any wonder why over 200,000 Australians consult a chiropractor each week (according to the Chiropractors Association of Australia)?

Stretch of the Month

Flexion Stretch – Chin to Chest
  1. Gently bend your head forward while bringing your chin toward your chest.
  2. Stop when a stretch is felt in the back of your neck.
  3. Hold position for 15-30 seconds.
  4. Return to starting position. (Neck in midline position).
  5. Repeat above stretch 5 more times.

Towards Wellness

What is Social Wellness?

Social Wellness is our ability to maintain healthy, supportive relationships with other people. Social Wellness is necessary for your well-being and longevity. Poor social health can result in sickness & disease. A social issue like loneliness caused by a poor support network may double your risk of death within any time period, at any age.

Here are a few more quick tips on how to improve your social health:

  • Spend time with friends and family
  • Avoid those that put you down, take but never give
  • Pursue activities and people who nurture your needs
  • Join a club or organisation that interests you

When you make the choice to improve your social health, you will perform better under stress, boost your self- esteem, increase your energy levels and achieve better overall physical health.