Headaches are a familiar feeling for almost everyone. Often, it stems from fatigue, stress, dehydration, or caffeine withdrawal. A reported 90% of men and 95% of women will have at least one head pain in a year’s time. Believe it or not, there are approximately 300 types of headaches. Based on the location of your headache, you can narrow down which type of head pain you’re experiencing.
Below, we’ll discuss the different areas of your head that can hurt for some of the most common headache types. Different headaches can affect similar areas. While this isn’t a foolproof method of figuring out, it can help in determining the cause of your pain. And, for those looking for a natural, effective way to care for many types of headaches and migraines, be sure to read through to the end.
What Your Headache Location May Be Telling You
Migraines cause moderate to severe throbbing or pulsating pain. This pain is often felt on one side of the head, affecting the temple, eye, and back of the head on that side. For some people, this pain may be felt on both sides of the head.
Other than the location of the pain, other clues that you might be having a migraine episode are nausea, vomiting, and vision changes (aura). Migraines can be mistaken for a sinus headache or infection since pain can be felt in the face, across the forehead, and over the bridge of your nose where your sinus cavities are located.
Sinus headaches are often caused by inflammation of the sinuses due to viral or bacterial infection. They create a constant, deep pressure around the cheekbones, across the bridge of the nose, and in the forehead. The pain of a sinus head pain may come along with a runny nose, stuffy nose, clogged ears, and fever. Quick movements of the head will often make a sinus headache worse.
Cluster headaches are one of the most painful types of head pain. The pain will come on suddenly on one side of the head and face. Excruciating pain behind one eye, tearing of the eye, and a runny nose are all indicators of a cluster headache.
Approximately 80% of cluster head pain sufferers are men in the 20-50-year-old age range. Clusters of attacks often develop during sleep and can occur daily for weeks or even months. Episodes will last for several hours. Risk factors include excessive use of tobacco and alcohol.
Caffeine Withdrawal Headache
For heavy coffee drinkers or those who are more sensitive to caffeine, if you stop suddenly, you may be susceptible to developing a caffeine withdrawal head pain. If you have a throbbing headache behind the eye or at the front of your head
Tension headaches, usually brought on by fatigue or stress, can feel like a hat that fits too tightly. Muscle contractions along with dilation of blood vessels in the scalp cause pressure on both sides of the head, across the forehead, around the back of the head, in the scalp, and in back of the neck. Arthritis in the neck may also be a culprit. Tension headaches can range from mild to severe but typically aren’t debilitating.
If you have neck stiffness, pain on one side of the face or head, pain around the eyes, and neck pain that radiates into the shoulder and arm, you may be having a cervicogenic headache. The word “cervicogenic” translates into “generated by the neck,” so factors that contribute to this head pain type include misalignment of cervical (neck) vertebrae, neck injury, and osteoarthritis of the joints of the spine in the neck.
Jaw pain that comes from the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) can produce similar symptoms to a tension headache. If you’re experiencing a head pain around the temples, on the side of the face, and around your jaw joint, you might have TMJ dysfunction. Other clues that might be indicative of a jaw problem are earaches, pain when opening or closing the jaw, clicking or popping of the jaw, and clenching/grinding.
Effective Headache and Migraine Care, Regardless of Where it Hurts
When it comes to caring for headaches and migraines, part of your plan should address the area where your head and neck meet. This junction, formed by the atlas (C1) vertebra, is vital to your body’s ability to self-regulate. Head pains and migraines can have several contributing factors that add up to the end result of head pain, including neurological and vascular components. An atlas misalignment, whether caused by head/neck injury or wear and tear that occurs over time, can begin to negatively impact three main areas that can be a player in the development of a head pain or migraine:
- Abnormal nervous system function
- Impaired blood flow to the brain
- Reduced drainage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
Upper cervical chiropractic care can stand to help with migraines and headaches by restoring the normal atlas alignment and the proper relationship of the head and neck. Upper cervical chiropractors are trained to analyze and correct misalignment in this delicate area of the spine. The method they employ is gentle and precise. Many migraine and headache sufferers have seen remarkable results under this care. As a result, patients see significant reduction or even a complete resolution of their chronic symptoms. If you’d like to learn more about upper cervical care, how it’s unique, and how it may help you find natural relief from your head pains or migraines, reach out to an upper cervical chiropractor in your area to schedule a consultation.