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Headaches: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

There are many different types of headaches and recognizing which type of headache you suffer with, will help determine the best treatment.

 Tension Headaches:

Symptoms: These headaches usually feel like a tight band around the head. Pain and tension is usually also felt in the neck and upper back/shoulders.

The Mayo Clinic reports that these headaches can last up to a week and may become chronic. More than 3 million people in the US suffer with these kinds of headaches.

Cause: Stress and tension are triggers for these headaches – but they are not necessarily the cause of the headache.

The most common causes are misalignments in the spine, which will cause muscle tension along the base of the skull, neck, and upper back.

Treatment: With chiropractic care, we get to the source of the problem by correcting the misalignments in the spine. Once the spine is aligned properly, the muscle tension will be reduced. Chiropractic adjustments also help your body manage stress better. Most people under chiropractic care report that they feel relaxed, sleep better, and focus better on a daily basis.


Symptoms: Sometimes migraines with present with an “aura”. An aura precedes the migraine and the person may experience light-headedness, dizziness, seeing stars, loss of vision, etc. Once the migraine hits, it will cause pounding and throbbing in the head and behind the eyes. Nausea often accompanies a migraine, as well. A migraine can last for hours or days.

Cause: There are many different causes of migraines. Migraines can be caused by a hormonal imbalance, certain foods or food ingredients, or spinal misalignments.

Treatment: There is currently no cure for migraines. Some people may be able to figure out what triggers their migraines and can avoid those triggers. Misalignments in the neck can pinch nerves and blood vessels, which can cause a migraine, as well. Chiropractic adjustments will get rid of the misalignment(s) and allow the muscles and other structures to have proper blood flow and nerve signals.

Cluster Headaches:

Symptoms: These headaches are less common but much more severe. These are called Cluster Headaches because they come in cluster episodes. The pain will be sharp/burning and on one side of the head and usually behind the eye. The most common factors are: male gender, cigarette smoker, alcohol consumption.

These headaches will last 1-2 weeks and are very painful.

Cause: The exact cause is unknown but may be related to the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that runs our biological clock.

Treatment: Many people who get cluster headaches will follow prevention protocols in addition to seeking natural healthcare, such as chiropractic adjustments. Things to avoid or limit include:

-Eliminating afternoon/evening naps; avoiding any major changes in sleep habits

-Avoiding use of alcohol during cluster period

-Avoiding extreme changes in altitude, due to changes in oxygen levels

-Limiting exposure to chemical agents (oil-based paint, gasoline)

-Avoiding tobacco use

 Sinus Headaches

Symptoms: With a sinus headache, people may feel pain or pressure around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead. The pain may worsen with bending over or laying down.

Cause: Sinus headaches can be associated with a tension headache or migraine. These types of headaches are not necessarily caused by a sinus infection, in which case antibiotics are not beneficial.

Treatment: Chiropractic adjustments can help relieve headaches. An adjustment will also improve the movement of lymph fluid and mucus in the sinuses. After an adjustment, people usually feel their sinuses start to drain and relieve the pressure in the head.


For more information about headaches and chiropractic, please contact Denaro Chiropractic at 978-664-1500. We are located at 350 Park St. in North Reading, MA. Communities we serve Chiropractic Care to include Andover, Reading, Wilmington, Stoneham, Woburn, Lynnfield, and Tewksbury.