Headaches are one of the most common reasons for people missing work or school, with approximately 40-50 million Americans suffering from them. Headaches have numerous causes and are classified according to different categories. There are primary headaches, secondary headaches, and cranial neuralgias. Primary headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are those that are due to an underlying structural problem in the head or neck, such as bleeding in the brain, tumors, or meningitis. Cranial neuralgia describes a group of headaches that occurs because the nerves in the head and upper neck become inflamed.
For the purpose of this article, we will concentrate on a type of primary headache which can be prevented and easily treated: Tension Headaches. Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headaches and occur commonly among women; however, men are also likely to get them. They are caused by muscle spasms which occur at the base of the skull, the temple, and forehead commonly due to physical or emotional stress.
Physical stressors include difficult or prolonged manual labor, or sitting at a desk or computer for long periods of time concentrating. Emotional stress may also cause tension headaches by causing the muscles surrounding the skull to contract.
What are the symptoms of tension headaches? The pain usually begins in the back of the head and upper neck and is described as a band-like tightness or pressure, often described as pressure encircling the head with the most intense pressure over the eyebrows. It is usually mild (not disabling) and bilateral (affecting both sides of the head). The pain is not associated with nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound (commonly due to a Migraine Headache). Tension headaches most commonly occur sporadically but can occur frequently and even daily in some people.
The good news is tension headaches are preventable and easily treatable. Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent them. Cardiovascular exercise (which includes walking, jogging, running, cycling, and swimming) is one of the main methods to preventing headaches. The exercise should include a minimum of at least 30 minutes of continuous exercise three times per week. Be sure to warm-up then stretch before exercise, then cool-down and stretch after exercise.
Performing intense exercise can be beneficial, but jumping right into more intense workouts can prove very detrimental in helping prevent headaches. Avoid exercise during or at the onset of a headache, which can actually increase the duration and intensity of a headache. Drink plenty of water while you exercise. Being adequately hydrated will help keep your energy up as well as help flush your system of toxins that have built up. Dehydration is also a cause of headaches; so, make sure you drink enough water throughout the day as well. Headaches can also be easily treated by conservative Chiropractic care. Chiropractic doesn’t just treat the symptoms; it gets to the cause of the problem, thus allowing the body to effect a correction that lasts beyond actual care.
Jerrilynn Primeaux, DC, CCSP, CKTP is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician with advanced training in sports injury treatment and rehabilitation. She is also a Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner, as well as a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer. She practices at Advanced Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Clinic in Lafayette and does personal training at Snap Fitness, which is located in the same suite as her clinic.
For more information or for memberships at Snap Fitness in Lafayette, please call 337-456-7983. For memberships at Snap Fitness in Abbeville, please call 337-893-0009