Head Aches

My Head!

One of the most frustrating conditions in our high stress, high demand society is the chronic headache. The medical term for these is “cephalgia.” Patients who suffer from constant headache pain do not always receive the sympathy they deserve because no visible damage can be observed by co-workers, family or friends.

What Causes Headaches

There are literally hundreds of causes of headaches. Fortunately for patients, the majority of these fall into only one category: tension headaches. Don't let the name fool you, tension type headaches (TTH) can be debilitating. The good news is that they are not caused by anything serious and respond favourably to conservative treatment such as that offered in our clinic.

Tension Type Headache (TTH)

These types of headaches travel around both sides of your head and wrap around like a tight head-band. They typically start at the top of the neck/base of the skull region and then travel around the head. The pain can also often drape itself over the neck and shoulders.

Tension headaches can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as several days. In some cases, the pain is constant.

According to researchers, the majority of tension headaches are the result of too much tension in the muscles of the upper neck. There are several factors which can contribute to increased muscle tension in this area:

  • improper head and neck posture at work or during recreation activities
  • imbalance in the strength, endurance and flexibility of the neck region musculature
  • poor nervous system input/output occurring in the upper cervical region
  • joints which are not functioning in unison during rotation, extension, flexion and lateral bending of the neck
  • high, prolonged stress levels

The above causes of high tension in the upper cervical muscles are usually present in groups, and not as a single category. In other words, if you have poor balance in strength and flexibility of your muscles, you will most likely have poor head posture and poorly functioning joints and as a result imbalance in the nervous system input/output of the neck.

The good news: all of the above categories can be treated in a conservative care setting, without drugs or surgery.

Another important factor in tension headache studies is the finding that the muscles in your upper neck are literally connected to your brain. Study of cadavers have revealed, since the 1990's, that a physical bridge of tissue exists between the upper cervical muscles and the dura (a saran wrap-like tissue covering the entire brain and spinal cord).

This is unfortunate because these upper cervical muscles are prone to spasm caused by stress, posture, muscular imbalance and vertebral dysfunction. When these muscles tighten they most likely cause a pull on the brain's dura, causing the pain symptoms associated with tension headaches.

Again, these types of headaches react very well to the manual therapy and other conservative treatments offered by Dr. Podaima.

Other Types of Headaches

If you are not suffering from a tension headache, Dr. Podaima can still be of assistance. For example, the migraine headache can cause severe pain which then triggers spasm in the upper cervical area and cause a tension type headache on top of the existing migraine! In this situation, although complete resolution of pain is not always possible, significant relief can often be achieved. And in a completely natural way. Something migraine sufferers who are on pain relief medication can truly appreciate.

Before any and all treatments, Dr. Podaima conducts a thorough examination to determine what type of headache the patient is suffering. If he suspects something more serious than a tension type headache or a classic migraine, Dr. Podaima will immediately refer you out to your family physician for a referral to a specialist or imaging studies (CT scan, MRI, blood work, etc).

If you are a headache sufferer and would like to see Dr. Podaima for natural, effective care call 482-4144.

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