Headaches are just that, your head aches. When you are suffering from a headache and seeking medical advice, a common question you will hear is “what type of headache do you have”? Knowing the different types of headaches and their causes, can help find the most effective treatment.
Some common headaches include:
A tension headache begins slowly and can be felt across the forehead just above the eyes. This type of headache may feel as though a tight band is around your head. Radiating pain down the back of the neck and into the shoulders. A pain level of mild to moderate. Tension headaches can last for a few hours; depending on your stress level, a tension headache can last for several days. Unfortunately, due to work, health and other contributing factors, tension headaches can become a chronic ailment, requiring intervention from your doctor.
Cluster headaches behave just as their name describes, in clusters. Several headaches or groups of headaches can come on in waves lasting 20 minutes or longer. Typically, a cluster headache is very severe on the pain scale and for the average suffer come on suddenly in the middle of the night. Other side effects of a cluster headache include nasal stuffiness, drooping eyelid and tearing of the eyes. Although rare, cluster headaches can afflict a sufferer for weeks and or months at a time. Non-life threatening, cluster headaches can be treated by your doctor, making them shorter and or less severe.
Sinus headaches are very common for those that live in damper climates like Vancouver. A sinus headache can be an early sign of a sinus infection. A sinus headache will present with a lot of pressure in the areas of your eyes, forehead and nose. Putting your head forward can cause that pressure and pain increase. A sinus headache is usually accompanied by congestion, a runny nose, fatigue and an achy feeling in your upper teeth or gums.
A migraine can be debilitating, with severe throbbing pain typically on one side of the head. Migraine sufferers have reported their headaches lasting from hours to days, usually requiring them to be in complete silence and darkness. For some, a migraine can present early warning signals called “auras” including flashes of light, a tingling sensation in their face, or blind spots. Recurring migraines should be treated by your doctor to confirm there is not an underlying medical concern causing the migraine.
Headaches are disruptive, whether it be a tension, sinus, cluster or migraine headache. Knowing the symptoms of the different types of headaches will better assist you and your doctor in determining what is the best treatment to eliminate the pain and other symptoms that can come with a headache. Treatment centres like the BC Head Pain Institute in Vancouver can work with you to determine the type, cause and treatment of your head pain.
The cause of a headache is often hard to be identified. However, one very common reason for getting a headache can actually be found in the neck – resulting from muscle tension and trigger points.
At the base of the skull there is a group of muscles, the suboccipital muscles which can be the beginnings of a headache for many people. These four pairs of muscles are responsible for subtle movements between the skull and the first and second vertebrae in the neck. These muscles can become sore and tender due to many factors such as eye strain, wearing new eyeglasses, poor work ergonomics, teeth grinding, slouching, or trauma.
Pain resulting from suboccipital muscles often feels like a band wrapping around the head, and sometimes over the eyes.
Relief for Suboccipital Headaches
- If you believe you are suffering from headaches resulting from the suboccipital muscles, some of these options may help to relieve the pain:
- Seek an eye examination with your optometrist. You may be straining your eyes if your eyes have changed since your last exam;
- Redesign your workstation. You may be getting headaches from poor ergonomics at work – raising your computer monitor or moving your desk so that you do not have to crane your neck may help with headaches;
- Correct your posture. Consider gentle exercise such as yoga or pilates to encourage proper self-carriage;
- Apply a hot pack to the base of the neck for 15-20 minute intervals when you experience a tension headache.
Headaches that feel like a band around the head or run through the eyes are often a form of tension headache, caused by the muscles in the neck. Use this guide to combat them.
Diagnosing neck pain can involve an array of exams and tests in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Often, acute (short term) neck pain isn’t very serious and may be caused by a minor muscle strain or sprain – but chronic ongoing neck pain is typically something more serious.
If you are experiencing neck pains, make an appointment with your care provider to diagnose your pain – especially if it is coupled with other new symptoms as well. Your doctor will help you to diagnose the cause of your pain and to develop a treatment plan to help you manage the pain.
Your doctor will perform an exam to diagnose the source of your neck pain. They may evaluate your posture, physical condition, and note any movements that cause the pain. Your doctor may also note the alignment of your spine, test your muscle strength and reflexes, and evaluate whether or not the pain travels to other points in the body. To complete the diagnosis, your doctor may want you to go for further testing such as an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI.
Common neck pain symptoms may include:
- Burning pain;
- Soreness on one or both sides;
- Numbness in the arm or hand;
- Tingling in the arm or hand.
If any of these symptoms are persistent, it is recommended to seek medical care urgently. Additionally, if you are experiencing difficulty breathing, swallowing, or talking; severe tenderness; very high fever; or pain which radiates down the arms and legs, you should seek immediate care.
Neck pain may have a number of potential sources. If you are experiencing neck pain, see your doctor for a thorough evaluation to ensure it is properly diagnosed and treated.
If you are a sufferer of Temporomandibular joint disorder, it may be worth your while to look into posture training and exercise to deal with TMJ disorder. According to some TMJ experts, your posture could be the sole culprit for your jaw pain and there is a fairly easy way to alleviate symptoms.
What is TMJ Disorder?
Your Temporomandibular joint is the joint in your jaw that connects the mandible (the bone of the lower jaw) to the temporal bones of the skull on either side of the head. Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Jaw pain
- Pain in the face muscles
- Grinding and clicking of the jaw
- Stiffness of the jaw muscles
- Locking of the jaw.
The disorder can range from a slight nuisance to severely debilitating, as it can impact your ability to eat, breathe, talk, and sleep. Approxamitely 12 percent of the population suffers from a TMJ disorder at any given time.
- Common treatments for TMJ disorder include:
- Pain medications
- Stabilization splint or bite guard
- Orthodontic treatments
- Crown or bridge work
But, other easier options may be a possibility.
Exercise and Posture for TMJ Disorders
From an alignment perspective, the human head should be sitting directly on top of the shoulders. When the head is not sitting in it’s intended position, it strains the surrounding muscles – however, the muscles in the TMJ joint were not intended for heavy lifting. When they are given the added task of holding up your head, they go into “lock down” and the jaw looses its ability to move freely.
To restore correct posture, exercises can be used that may end up helping with TMJ pain. Keeping up with routine and posture stretches daily may help to combat your TMJ pain. To start, try standing against a wall with your heels and hips touching the wall. Does your head easily and naturally touch the wall too? Or do you have to put effort into putting your head back? If the latter is true, you may need to see a professional who can help you come up with an exercise plan to combat your TMJ symptoms.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) joint disorder may be an underlying cause of your unexplained neck pain. These disorders are often overlooked when trying to analyze neck pain, but they can be the main culprit.
When the jaw becomes dislocated, the surrounding muscles go into spasm – including the neck muscles. Symptoms of TMJ disorders can include neck pain, stiffness, wry neck, numbness in the neck, inability to turn the head to one or both sides, joint sounds during neck movement, and arthritis in the neck.
Neck pain from TMJ can be caused by degeneration of muscles, ligaments, and bone, or from congenital abnormalities in the joint. Disorders that include hypermobility can also lead to jaw dislocations and damage to the bone and ligament of the jaw. The muscles controlling the movement of the jaw can also cause neck pain by pulling the TMJ out of position and causing the joint to move incorrectly.
The muscles in your body work as a team – when the muscles in your jaw are not moving or working correctly, they can negatively effect the surrounding muscles such as those in your neck. The bones in your neck, especially the atlas and axis, are very involved with the muscles that are used for chewing, biting, talking, breathing, and head posture. If sore, tight muscles in the jaw are causing a tilt in the head and shoulders – the neck will compensate for that.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms along with your neck pain, it may be worthwhile to see your dentist to check for TMJ disorders:
- Clicking jaw noises;
- Facial pain;
- Jaw pain;
- Tooth Sensitivity or Pain.
If you are experiencing neck pain and haven’t been able to get an answer to explain it, it may be worth looking into TMJ disorders to see if this may be causing your neck pain. The fix may be TMJ treatment.
Pain is a natural body response which causes an uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling – often alerting the person that something is wrong. Each individual has a unique threshold for pain, and therefore each person is the best judge of his or her own pain.
What is acute pain?
Acute pain typically comes on suddenly and is caused by something specific. Acute pain is often described as a sharp pain, and usually does not last longer than 6 months. Acute pain diminishes completely when the underlying cause of the pain is gone.
Causes of acute pain can include:
- Broken bones
- Dental work
- Labor and childbirth
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is a type of pain that is ongoing and typically lasts longer than 6 months. This type of pain can continue even after the illness or injury that caused it has healed or gone away. These pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years. Some people may experience chronic pain even when there is no past injury or damage causing it.
Causes of chronic pain can include:
- Nerve pain
- Back pain
- Fibromyalgia pain
Those who suffer with chronic pain can have physical effects that are stressful on the body. These include tense muscles, limited mobility, lack of energy, and emotional effects such as depression, anger, and anxiety.
Pain is a normal part of life – but when pain becomes chronic, it becomes a problem to explore with your doctor.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body changes in a variety of ways. From morning sickness, to cravings, to irritability, the body chooses to adapt itself to grow with the baby it is growing. However, these well known symptoms are just a few of what women may experience during pregnancy. One fairly common, but less talked about, symptom is tinnitus – or, a ringing in the ears.
Tinnitus symptoms can range from a quiet humming sound in the background of one’s mind, to a persistent and loud ringing in the ears, and even crashing and banging sounds. Typically, tinnitus disappears naturally over time, but for a small percentage of people it can become a chronic condition.
What is the connection between tinnitus and pregnancy? Among many other changes in the body during pregnancy, congestion in the ear passages is a fairly common side effect during pregnancy. This congestion can lead to closing of the Eustachian tube and increased pressure in the ear – which can lead to tinnitus symptoms.
Futhermore, there is some evidence that an iron deficiency can lead to tinnitus, so it is important for pregnant women to ensure they are seeing their doctor or OB regularly for check ups, especially if they are experiencing tinnitus through their pregnancy. If your doctor is not concerned of the reasons for your tinnitus, you may simply need to wait for the ringing to subside on its own.
In some cases, relaxation exercises may help to reduce the symptoms. Some options for achieving this can include lying down in a quiet and dark room, concentrating on breathing, and meditating.
Often, tinnitus is simply just a symptom of the body adjusting to the changes of pregnancy – sometimes it occurs as soon as the first trimester. It is important during pregnancy to trust your body and accept the changes as part of a smooth and stress-free pregnancy.
While conventional medicine still has not figured out what exactly causes migraine headaches, one trigger has been identified as being caused by cranial dental imbalances. When the cranial bones and joints in the skull bones are distorted, changes in pressure can cause issues such as migraine pain. When the jaw is not aligned properly, known as malocclusion, the cranial-dental balances can become quite severe.
Diagnosing cranial distortion uses four indicators to palpate the skull and to determine whether the contact of the teeth worsens the cranial strain patterns, which could cause a migraine headache. If the contact of the teeth increases skull distortion, a high probability exists that this is a major cause for the patient’s headaches and migraines.
In one example, a patient who experiences migraine headaches may be tested for having cranial distortions caused by pressure when the teeth are closed. Treatment may involve orthodontic treatment to align the jaw and teeth properly to alleviate the pressure of the dental cranial imbalances. The structural correction is a non-invasive procedure and it fixes the underlying problem, often alleviating the migraines.
Sometimes, migraines can be caused by temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) which are when the TMJ joint is broken down, often due to things such as grinding or clenching of the jaw. Often, when someone gets migraines the first place to look is the TMJ joint, as it is frequently the root of the problem. Stress, among a number of other conditions, can cause jaw clenching which leads to irritation of the TMJ joint. This can progress to further cranial imbalances and create a cycle of migraines.
If a migraine is caused by cranial imbalances caused by TMJ disorders, your first step would be to see your dentist. The good news is that TMJ and cranial imbalances can be treated, which could be the key to getting rid of your migraines for good.
People who suffer from headaches may want to consider making an appointment with their dentist as well as their doctor, experts say. Headaches and dental pain have been proven to have a lot in common with each other. Unfortunately, headache and dental pain can form a painful feedback loop as pain centered in the nerves and muscles in the face and neck can trigger headaches, which then can trigger worse jaw and neck pain.
Headaches and toothaches both transmit through the trigeminal nerve, which is the largest sensory nerve in the head. It supplies the face, scalp, jaw, teeth and many intra-oral structures. Therefore, pain in one area of this nerve can activate pain in other branches. In people who get migraines, a toothache can easily trigger them.
Additionally, reflexive behaviours caused by external pain such as jaw clenching or muscle tightening can actually exacerbate and transfer the pain. Because of how interconnected the jaw, head, and neck are, tension and pain is transferred easily between the different areas. Often the tension begins without knowing – a patient will clench or grind their teeth subconsciously which can begin the cycle of headache and oral pain. This cycle can make it difficult for a doctor to determine the actual cause of the initial pain. A dentist trained in orofacial pain may be the best option for help at this point.
If a patient being treated for migraines or headaches is not seeing relief from the initial methods of treatment, they may be next referred to a dentist for evaluation. Because both oral pain and headaches have a great deal in common with one another, and because the initial cause can be difficult to determine, it is important for patients to work together with both their doctor and their dentist to target the cause of their pain an end the cycle.
People who get migraines know that when you feel one starting, you want to find a way to stop it as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this can be difficult as in a lot of cases the cause of the migraine is unknown. One possible cause of migraines that may be worth looking into if you suffer from migraines is triggers in the mouth and jaw.
The sides of your jaw are connected to your skull by two joints called the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). These joints help you to open and close your mouth when you talk, eat, and yawn. In many cases, headache pain can begin as pain or stiffness in these joints. Reasons for pain or stiffness in the jaw can include clenching of the jaw – possibly from feeling stress, or teeth grinding during sleep. Many people who do these things may not even realize they are doing them, even though the habits may be contributing to their migraines.
Signs that you may clench your jaw or grind your teeth include flat, broken, or chipped teeth; sensitive teeth; pain and soreness in the jaw or face; a tired or tight feeling jaw; or earaches with no other war problems. TMJ pain may also be cause by the way a person’s bite is lined up. If the bite is uneven, the muscles in the jaw may need to work harder or unevenly to bring the jaw back together. Over time this can cause a great deal of jaw pain. Additionally, people who use their jaw a lot such as frequent gum chewers may find that they get pain and soreness in the jaw, which can result in headaches.
If you have issues with migraines, and suspect you may also have jaw or face pain – it may be worthwhile to have a dentist check your teeth and jaw to determine if TMJ pain may be attributing to the migraines. The dentist may recommend treatment such as a mouth guard to avoid clenching or grinding of the teeth, or dental treatments to correct your bite if necessary.
For people who get migraines, and suspect that it may be caused by a dental issue, it may be a good idea to check in with a dentist. Additionally, trying to avoid habits such as chewing the fingernails, holding a phone between the shoulder and ear, chewing gum frequently, and eating sticky foods can help to reduce TMJ pain and subsequent migraines.
Tinnitus is a medical condition in which the patient hears a ringing or similar noise which is not produced by an external source. It can occur in one or both ears and ranges in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and may either be continuous or sporadic.
Tinnitus is not uncommon in children; however, it is often undiagnosed, as children often do not complain of it. Researchers believe that a children experiencing tinnitus will consider the noise in the ear to be normal – especially if it has been present for a long time. A child also may not be able to distinguish between the medical significance of the tinnitus and it’s psychological impact.
The condition has been linked to a number of causes, including ear injuries, circulatory system disorders, build up in the ear canal, ear infections, sinus infections, noise-induced hearing loss, or head and neck trauma.
Continuing tinnitus has be distracting and in some cases can cause psychological distress and interfere with a child’s ability to lead a normal life. Luckily, it is very unusual for a child’s tinnitus to follow them into adulthood, as they usually outgrow the symptoms over time.
If you are concerned that your child might have tinnitus, start by arranging an appointment with your family doctor. It may be necessary to have your child referred to an ear specialist. Many people who experience tinnitus find out that there is no specific issue causing their tinnitus, and therefore there is no exact cure. In some cases, external sound generators to provide background noise may help. Additional measures can also be used, depending on the severity of the tinnitus, such as use of hearing aids to help the child’s brain filter out the tinnitus noises.
While tinnitus can be a debilitating condition for some children, and it is fairly common in children, the good news is that most children outgrow the condition on their own. Parents can use a variety of methods to help their child deal with the symptoms of tinnitus.