|Headaches can be a symptom of so many various medical conditions that it would take a library to adequately address the topic of preventing them.
However, some causes of headache are very common.
Among these common causes, muscle tension, sinus pressure, hormone irregularities, dietary problems, spinal dysfunction and brain blood flow issues may be the most likely suspects.
Headaches are often diagnosed as being sinus related, tension type, migraine
or sometimes a combination of these descriptions.
Often the diagnosis of a headache begins with the description.
If the headache is worse in the front of the head, occurs when the weather changes, and hurts more if you bend forward, it may be a sinus pressure-related headache.
If the headache is typically one sided, causes visual or other abnormal sensations, occurs in patterns and may be preceded by unusual neurological symptoms, it may fall into the migraine classification.
If the pain begins in the back of the head, the neck or jaw, and gets worse during stress or physical exertion, it may fall into the muscle tension category.
But, none of these descriptions is foolproof.
Headaches can be very difficult to diagnose at times and often even more difficult to treat.
I have consulted with headache patients that have seen several doctors prior to
coming to our clinic.
In some cases, the headache has never been definitively diagnosed, even after several visits to various specialists.
Some headache patients are unable to find relief or resolution of the headaches through the various drugs used to treat them.
Or in other cases, although medication bring some relief, the patient cannot tolerate the drugs due to side effects.
I often advise patients on how to use preventative techniques, which may be helpful in avoiding future headaches.
For sinus related headache, the key to avoiding the head pain often lies in preventing sinus congestion.
Sinus headache pain occurs when the barometric pressure changes in the weather and sinus congestion prevents the sinuses from equalizing the pressure in the head.
Finding ways to successfully alleviate the congestion prevents the pain that may occur when the weather changes.
Suggestions may include using a nasal irrigator such as the one made by Neil-Med or addressing allergy problems though drug-free approaches.
We emphasize nonpharmacological resources whenever possible to minimize the chances of rebound headaches that can occur from taking many headache medications.
For muscle tension type headaches, we try to determine the specific reason for the muscle tension.
It is not sufficient to blame the headache on stress.
It is better to identify the specific muscles that are problematic and try to resolve the reason for that tension.
Often, solutions can be found that resolve the issue to keep the headaches from returning.
Advice for preventing tension headaches may include being regular with stretching and other movement exercises, perhaps changing a patient’s current exercise regime or sometimes suggestions such as avoiding prolonged use of recliners or too many pillow in the bed.
To avoid muscle tension headaches, here is a general rule: Movement is good, while straining is bad.
It may help to regularly engage in some general movement stretches and light exercise, but avoid
anything too strenuous.
Migraine headaches vary widely in the types of events or causes that might trigger a migraine.
It is best to be very specific in making recommendations for individual patients regarding migraines.
This column is too limited to be able to make specific recommendations about migraine headaches.
It is preferable to determine the cause of headaches and eliminate it, rather than depend on drugs that mask the symptoms.
Next week: simple solutions for some causes of hip and knee pain.