Headaches can be classified as either primary or secondary(1). The main differentiation is that secondary headaches are caused by an underlying structural or organic disease.
Headaches are a common complaint and, although fairly uncommon, may be a symptom of something more serious going on. If you are at all concerned, you should see your GP for further guidance.
Should you experience any of the “red flag” symptoms listed below, please visit your local Accident and Emergency department:
• Sudden, severe headaches that persist or increase in intensity over 24 hours.
• Sudden, very severe headache, worse than any headache ever experienced.
• Chronic or severe headache that begins after 50 years old.
• Headaches that are accompanied by memory loss, confusion, changes in speech or vision or loss of strength or numbness/tingling in arms or legs.
• Headaches after head injury, especially if also drowsy.
• Headache accompanied by fever, neck stiffness nausea and vomiting.
• Headache that increases with coughing or straining.
• Headache associated with fever, redness in the eye or personality changes.
1 The International Classification of headaches Disorders (2nd edition) Cephalalgia 2004; 24 Suppl 1: 1-160);
The most common subtypes of primary headaches are given below. This is only a very general description and should not be considered a replacement for a full medical examination. Furthermore, we do not purport to treat all the conditions listed.
Cervicogenic Headaches – discomfort is often felt unilaterally or bilaterally behind the eye, forehead or base of skull. There is not commonly any sensitivity to light or sound. Tend to occur, at varying frequency, during the day and only last a few hours. Certain activities and posture can worsen the headache, including sustained head position or external pressure over the cervical spine or occipital region. Chiropractic has been proven to be an effective treatment for cervicogenic headaches(1).
Tension Type Headache – often described as a tight cap or band around the head and can last hours. This type of headache is mild-moderate in intensity, bilateral in location and does not worsen with routine physical activity. Chiropractic has been proven to be an effective treatment for cervicogenic headaches(1)
Migraine without Aura – commonly described as a one sided throbbing sensation over the eye and temple region. This can be accompanied by light and sound sensitivity and can last a few hours a day. Chiropractic has been proven to be an effective treatment for migraines(1), to read more please click here.
Migraine with Aura – same as a migraine but is accompanied by proceeding symptoms such a flashing lights, increased smell or light sensitivity, etc. Chiropractic has been proven to be an effective treatment for migraines(1).
Cluster Headaches – very extreme sharp pain which can be described as ‘knife-like’. This may be accompanied by eye tearing, facial flushing (reddening), runny nose, etc. and they may last from minutes to hours.
1. Bronfort-G et al 2004: Non invasive physical treatments for chronic/recurrent headache (review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004 issue 3.
(The list of conditions given above and subsequent explanations are intended as a general guide and should not be considered a replacement for a full medical examination. Furthermore, we do not purport to treat all the conditions listed. Should you wish to discuss any of these conditions with our chiropractors, please do not hesitate to contact us).