90 percent of men and 95 percent of women have suffered from a headache within the past year, making it one of the most common complaints. Many people will search for headache relief and all too often will come up unsuccessful. Though there are treatments that many have not considered as an option for relief. Holistic and naturopathic medicines can be great treatments and alternatives to Western medicine and pain relievers.
There are several different types of headaches, but all can be put into two categories–primary and secondary. Primary headaches have no other cause, where secondary headaches are the cause of a different health problem or issue. Most headaches are primary headaches, but anyone suffering from chronic headaches should consult a physician to make sure they are not a symptom of a more serious condition.
Three most common types of headaches are migraines, tension headaches and cluster headaches.
- Migraines are caused by inflammation or dilation of blood vessels in the brain. The majority of migraine sufferers are women. Sensitivity to noise and light is extremely common when the headache is occurring, these attacks can last up to 72 hours.
- Tension headaches are the most common types of headaches. They feel exactly as they are described, like extreme tension or pressure on the head. Unlike migraine headaches, tension headaches do not cause light/noise sensitivity, and are not debilitating to the sufferers.
- Cluster headaches are among the most painful type of headache. They usually occur on one side of the head behind the eyes and are described as a sharp, burning pain. These headaches come in groups, hence the name cluster headaches, and can last 45 to 90 minutes. These headaches can occur multiple times a day, and can also be experienced for days or months on end at the same time every day. The pain from cluster headaches can be quite debilitating and are often accompanied by congestion, a teary eye and droopy eyelid on the side experiencing the headache.
With tension headaches, doctors have found a direct connection between poor posture and the headache pain. The head is a 10 pound structure on top of a rather small cervical spine. When the head is too far forward or backwards, the stabilizer muscles of the neck have to work harder causing tension and decreased blood flow to the cranium. The reduced blood flow will allow less oxygen to the brain. Structural integration can aid in relieving pain by releasing tension in muscle and connective tissue, the skull will be properly realigned on top of the spine and will reduce the amount of stress on the stabilizing muscles. For migraine and cluster headaches there are options available, though they are often not as effective as treatment for tension headaches.