Migraines and headaches are common ailments that affect millions of people worldwide. Frequent or not, these conditions can cause significant pain and discomfort, making it difficult for individuals to go about their daily lives. While various medications are available to manage these symptoms, chiropractic care has been shown to help reduce the intensity, frequency, and duration of migraine symptoms and headaches.
As your #1 chiropractic care provider in Indian Land near Fort Mill, SC, we at Carolina Chiropractic & Wellness would like to explain the difference between headaches and migraines and how chiropractic treatment can provide lasting relief.
Migraines vs. Headaches: What’s the Difference?
Migraines and headaches can both cause head pain, but they have distinct differences in symptoms, causes, and treatments. Knowing the key differences between the two can help you find long-awaited relief.
What Are Headaches and How Do They Affect You?
Headaches are a common type of pain that can occur on any part of your head, including your temples, forehead, the back of your head, and neck. There are several types of headaches, which include:
Tension headaches are the most frequently occurring type of headache. Pain from this type of headache often starts at the back of your head, creeps forward, and spreads across both sides of your head. They are often caused by stress or tension in the head and neck muscles.
Sinus headaches often strike when you’re feeling congested or sick and are caused by inflammation in your sinus passages. This leads to pain behind your eyes, nose, and cheeks, and the pain is often the worst when you bend forward or wake up in the morning.
Cluster headaches are characterized by severe pain, usually occurring on one side of the head. They are caused by a release of serotonin and histamine due to the dilation in the brain’s blood vessels and are triggered by bright lights, altitude, and physical exertion.
What Are Migraines and How Do They Affect You?
The term “migraine” is commonly associated with a headache that is typically more severe and debilitating than other types of headaches. While this is true, it’s important to note that headaches are just one of the symptoms of migraines. Moreover, the intensity and duration of migraines can vary greatly among individuals.
Other symptoms of migraines include:
- Sensitivity to noise, light, or smells
- Extreme fatigue
They can also cause visual disturbances, such as seeing zigzag lines or flashes of light.
Certain foods, genetics, hormonal changes, or environmental factors such as bright lights, loud noises, or lack of sleep often trigger migraines. During a migraine, the overactivity of the brain cells causes the trigeminal nerve to release chemicals. These chemicals can inflame and irritate the blood vessels on the brain’s surface. The resulting swelling sends pain signals to the brainstem, where pain information is processed.
Typically, the pain is felt around the temple area or eyes but can also occur in the sinuses, jaw, neck, or face. As the migraine progresses, sensitivity to stimuli on the head may increase, causing discomfort during activities like combing hair or shaving. This referred pain can be quite uncomfortable for many individuals during a full-blown attack.
How Are Headaches Different From Migraines?
Tension headaches typically cause pressure on either side of the head or a band of pain around the forehead. While uncomfortable, the pain is generally less severe than that of migraines.
Sinus headaches, on the other hand, are often accompanied by a stuffy or runny nose. While migraines can also cause these symptoms, pain with a stuffy nose and thick or yellowish mucus is most likely a sinus headache. Conversely, pain accompanied by a runny nose and clear mucus could be a migraine.
Like migraines, cluster headaches can be excruciating and can lead to teary eyes and a stuffy nose. However, they come on suddenly and can feel like someone pierced or stabbed your eye or temple with a knitting needle.
Generally, migraines occur in phases and may begin with some warning signs, like a light aura or a flashing light in your field of vision. They can also last for days, while headaches can resolve quickly (within a few hours).
How Neck Misalignments Cause Headaches
Neck misalignments, also known as cervical spine misalignments, can cause headaches in several ways. The neck contains many nerves, bones, muscles, and blood vessels connected to the head. Any misalignment in this area can cause tension and pain, leading to headaches.
Here are some ways neck misalignments can cause headaches:
Muscle tension: When your neck is misaligned, the muscles around your neck and shoulders have to work harder to keep your head balanced. This can cause muscle tension, which can lead to tension headaches.
Pinched nerves or nerve irritation: A misaligned neck can put pressure on the nerves that run from your neck to your head, causing irritation. This irritation can lead to headaches.
Reduced blood flow: Misalignments in your neck can restrict or reduce blood flow to your head. This can lead to a lack of oxygen and nutrients reaching the brain, triggering headaches.
Jaw misalignment: Neck misalignments can also cause your jaw to become misaligned, leading to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. TMJ disorder can cause headaches, jaw pain, and other symptoms.
Posture: Poor posture can also cause neck misalignments, which can lead to headaches. Sitting or standing with your head and neck in an improper position can stress your neck and lead to headaches.
Trigger points: Trigger points are areas of tight, knotted muscle fibers that can cause pain and headaches. Misalignments in the cervical spine can cause trigger points to develop in the neck and shoulder muscles, referring pain to the head.
How Chiropractic Adjustments Can Help
Most people often rely on medications to manage headaches and migraine symptoms. However, these medications only address the symptoms and may lead to other health issues. Thankfully, chiropractic care offers a natural and drug-free approach to health and can help with migraines and headaches by addressing the underlying cause of the pain.
When you visit our chiropractic office in Indian Land, SC, Dr. Cooper will thoroughly examine you and check your medical history to determine the source of your pain. Then he will create a treatment plan which may include spinal manipulation and chiropractic massages to adjust your neck and spine. This will help to relieve tension, improve circulation, and reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraines and headaches.
Additionally, Dr. Cooper, our Indian Land chiropractor, can provide lifestyle recommendations to help reduce your condition’s frequency and severity. These recommendations may include dietary changes, exercise, stress management techniques, and other lifestyle modifications that can help prevent migraines and headaches from occurring.
Treat Headaches and Migraine Symptoms With Chiropractic Massage Therapy in Indian Land Near Fort Mill, SC
Frequent or not, the pain caused by migraines or headaches is not something you should not have to endure. Thankfully, we offer chiropractic care for migraines and headaches in Indian Land near Fort Mill, SC, to relieve pain and improve your overall well-being.
Dr. Adam Cooper has many years of experience providing high-quality, patient-centered chiropractic care. We can also customize your treatment plan to help stop or reduce the intensity and frequency of your headaches and migraines. Call (803) 548-8452 today to schedule an appointment or discover how our chiropractic care can improve your health.