The Location of Your Headache Can Help Treat It

HeadacheAny headache is a bad headache, but a slight adjustment may fix it. With Over 150 different kinds of headaches known, these annoyances have numerous ways to interrupt your day and make it difficult or nearly impossible to concentrate.

“Tension headaches are the most common we see, as people sit for longer periods and carry stress in their upper shoulders and neck,” says Jordan McIntyre, DC, chiropractor with Altru Health System. “We also see headaches from the jaw, because people will clench their teeth from stress or sitting, and those muscles connect to the top of the head and make you feel like your head is throbbing.”

Sit Up Straight
Posture, too, is important, Dr. McIntyre notes. It’s far easier to get stiff and tight in the upper neck if core muscles are inactivated and the head and spine are unsupported.

“With tension and cervicogenic headaches, we typically look to see if anything needs to be adjusted. A lot of times, an adjustment or muscle release will get rid of the headache,” says Christopher Howson, DC, chiropractor with Altru. “Decreasing irritants in the spinal and musculoskeletal system helps a surprising amount when treating headaches.”

A Different Beast
“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, it’s a migraine,’ when they have a particularly bad headache, but migraines aren’t your typical headache,” Dr. Howson says. “Migraines will have a throbbing or pulsing quality, and tend to interfere with everything you do. They get worse with exercise or exertion, and many people will be nauseated or have trouble with light and sound.”

Some people who experience migraines will know beforehand due to a neurological sensation called an aura. A kind of warning, auras can be anything from seeing flashing lights to briefly losing the ability to speak correctly to smelling something that isn’t there, such as campfire smoke.

headache graphic

Where’s Your Pain?
The location of your headache pain gives a better idea of how to treat it.

  • Base of skull—Cervicogenic headaches feel a lot like tension headaches but are often caused by muscle spasms in the area and can be treated with an adjustment of vertebrae.
  • Side of the head—Often, when pain is localized to the side of the head, a chiropractor will work on jaw muscles, even from inside the mouth.
  • Neck—For headaches caused by stiff muscles in the neck, chiropractors use dry needling to release tension at specific trigger points.

Altru’s chiropractors can treat your pain from head to toe. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Howson or Dr. McIntyre by calling 701.732.7620.

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