Types of headaches and how a chiropractor can help

Most people experience headaches at some point. They can range from the relatively minor to headaches that are debilitating. When it comes to treating headaches, it is important to note that there are different types of headaches.

Some headaches are primary headaches, meaning that the headache itself is the primary concern. Other headaches are secondary headaches, meaning that the headache is a symptom of another condition. For the purposes of this post, we are going to focus on primary headaches.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are usually short, but they reoccur frequently over the course of weeks or even months. The pain is usually quite intense, and they can make it difficult for the person to get comfortable. With cluster headaches, the pain comes on quickly, and it is usually localized on one side of the head or face. The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but it is associated with a type of nervous system dysfunction that causes a nerve that controls pain in the head and face to become stimulated.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache among adults. The pain is usually more diffuse and they tend to affect the area of the forehead or the back of the head and down into the neck. These headaches are usually mild, and they can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Some people experience episodic tension headaches that occur infrequently, and other people have chronic tension headaches that happen much more regularly. While the exact cause of tension headaches is unknown, they are believed to be associated with things like stress and tension in the muscles around the back of the head and neck.


Migraine headaches are usually associated with an intense, throbbing pain. With most migraines, the pain is on one side of the head, and they can be accompanied by a variety of different symptoms. Some of the additional symptoms include nausea, sensitivity to light, dizziness and sensitivity to sound. The pain can last for anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and they can be so intense as to be disabling to the individual. The exact cause of migraine headaches is unknown, but nervous system dysfunction and irregularities to brain chemicals seem to play a role for most migraine sufferers.

How chiropractic care can help

Chiropractic adjustments can be one of the most effective treatments for resolving issues with all three types of primary headaches. Most of these headaches are triggered by some type of nerve dysfunction, so restoring the proper function to the nervous system can help to relieve the pain and reduce the frequency with which a person suffers headaches.

The first step that a chiropractor would take is evaluating the type of headache you have and the triggers that seem to lead to the onset of the headaches. Once the chiropractor has a better understanding of the problem, they can then use adjustments to restore proper function to the nervous system.

Along with adjustments, a chiropractor is likely to apply other techniques and treatments to resolve headache problems. Things like massage, exercise and stretching can be useful in a treatment plan that is designed to address issues with headaches. Additionally, your chiropractor may recommend certain changes to your lifestyle and diet.