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COMMON TYPES OF HEADACHES
There are a variety of causes of headaches. Some of the most common include migraines, tension, sinus pressure, and TMJ. If you have had chronic headaches, you have probably tried a variety of treatments. As a chiropractor, I have treated hundreds of patients with headaches and observed much misunderstanding and misdiagnosis. In this chapter, I will discuss some of the most common misdiagnosed headaches and what to do about them.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Tension headaches result from muscle tension, usually in the neck muscles. These can be thought of as neck headaches. Tension headaches are often correctly diagnosed.
Migraine headaches are commonly diagnosed. However, I find that they are often over-diagnosed. That is, patients often don’t have migraines when they have been told they do. Additionally, many patients diagnose themselves with migraines – often incorrectly. A few key symptoms (not all the symptoms) that help to diagnose migraines are:
One-sidedness (most migraines are only on one side of your head at a time),
Light and sound sensitivity (i.e. you want to go into a dark room with no sound),
Or an aura (a sensation that you are about to get a headache) that lasts for 10–30 minutes.
These key symptoms can be accompanied by non-specific symptoms of:
Anorexia (loss of appetite),
and they can be excruciating.
Sinus headaches are commonly self-diagnosed - and usually incorrectly. A sinus headache is caused by pressure built up in the sinuses. This happens when you are sick -- specifically, with a sinus infection. You will have a runny nose, postnasal drip, and pressure. It will seem as if you have a very bad cold. I can’t tell you how many people have no sinus or cold symptoms - none - yet think that they have a sinus headache.
So what kinds of headache do many of these non-sinus or non-migraine sufferers have? TMJ headaches.
TMJ stands for tempormandibular joint (the name of the jaw joint). The condition is called TMJ dysfunction or TMD (tempormandibular dysfunction). Basically, your jaw apparatus is out of balance and the jaw muscles are in spasm. TMJ headaches are a type of muscle-tension headache. If you have temple headaches you probably have TMJ headaches. I don’t care how many people (or doctors) tell you that you have migraines. TMJ headaches are misdiagnosed most of the time!!!
(You can have both types of headaches as well.) The good news: you can find a very effective treatment for TMJ headaches in this chapter.
There are other causes of headaches including cluster headaches and something called “just headache.” Really! I have had a few patients whose neurologists have told them they have “just a headache.” There are headaches caused by medications, hormone imbalances, and more. It is not the purpose of this chapter to investigate all possible causes. It is the purpose to enlighten the reader as to the “ins” and “outs” of the most common headaches.
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