The most common types of headaches and how to prevent them

Common types of headaches affect most of us, but how can we prevent them?

Headaches are a common complaint from many of the patients visiting Rise Chiropractic. With the amount of stress in people’s lives at the moment and South Africa being in level 4 lockdown, this does not surprise us. Headaches affect most of us at some point in our lives and can range from occasional to frequent and from very mild to almost debilitating, with some even causing dizziness, nausea and weakness.

You may have previously tried to treat your headaches with over-the-counter migraine cocktails or other pain medications, but we are happy to say that there is a healthier alternative to achieving a headache-free life! Before we get into that, here’s a breakdown of the most common types of headaches we see in the practice:

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are described as a vice-like, squeezing pain that feels like a band around your head and are often associated with sore neck and upper back muscles. These headaches can be triggered by physical or emotional stress and can last for 30 minutes to an entire week. Tension headaches respond well to manual therapy (chiropractic care included).

Cervicogenic headaches

These headaches come from your neck, meaning they originate in the neck muscles and are commonly associated with a restricted range of neck movement. They often accompany neck stiffness or pain just below the base of the skull with pain that refers to the front of the head and into the eye. They are usually on one side and can last for hours or days.


Pain from migraines usually starts above the eyes and normally affects one side of the head, but the pain may also be felt in the entire head or may even move from one side to another. These headaches are usually throbbing and intense in nature and other associated symptoms may include auras, flashing lights, nausea and vomiting, as well as sensitivity to sound and light. It is important to try and identify what triggers your migraine in order to try to avoid or manage these triggers. Common triggers include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, menstruation or other hormone changes, missing a meal, birth control pills, lack of sleep, neck pain and stress. These headaches can last for days.

Cluster headaches

They are termed “cluster” because they usually occur in bunches over weeks at a time. On average, a cluster may range from 6-12 weeks. These headaches cause intense pain in one eye and typically affect one side of the face. Other symptoms include sweating, feeling flushed and nasal stuffiness. They can last for 15 minutes to 3 hours.

Headache prevention

Chiropractic care is a great way to decrease the frequency of your headaches, as well as manage your pain without needing to get pain medication by finding out what the cause of your pain is. Chiropractors use adjustments and other manual therapy techniques specifically designed for headache relief. We like to encourage patients to play an active role in their care with us to complement the care we provide in the practice.

You can do this with the following:

  • Stress management (Meditation, walking, yoga)
  • Regular exercise
  • Keep hydrated (2L water daily)
  • Decrease screen time
  • Get enough quality sleep
  • Make sure your desk set up (home or office) supports your spine
  • Working on your thoughts with positive affirmations

This blog post doesn’t replace professional advice. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions related to your headaches and remember we are here and ready to help!

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