What are headaches?

A headache is pain in any region of the head which can present with different characteristics. There are a variety of types of headaches one can experience. By understanding the types of headache, we can correctly diagnose and treat them. 

Headaches can be unilateral or bilateral and affect regional areas such as: 

  • Orbital (eye)
  • Temporal (forehead)
  • Suboccipital (base of the skull)
  • Sinus (eyes, cheek, forehead)

types of headaches

Headaches are unique from person to person and can feel very different. Some may describe their headaches as a throbbing sensation, dull ache, or a sharp stabbing type of pain. In serious cases, other symptoms can be dizziness, smell/light/noise sensitivity, nausea, and/or vomiting.  

how chiropractors can help alleviate HEADACHESHere are the 3 common types of headaches

  • Cervicogenic
  • Tension-type
  • Migraines

Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic refers to originating from the cervical spine, also known as the neck. These headaches are caused by irritation of the joints, muscles, and nerves of the neck. Some risk factors are:

  • Prior neck trauma (ex. whiplash, concussions)
  • Abnormal head/neck posture
  • Repetitive head/neck/shoulder movements 

Cervicogenic headaches usually occur on one side of the head, starting from the base of the skull to the forehead. These headaches usually have a steady pain in one spot (that does not throb) lasting from hours to days. A key finding in this headache type is a stiff neck with reduced and/or painful range of motion in the neck. Management of cervicogenic headaches includes active/passive exercise, stretching, physical therapy, massage, and chiropractic adjustments.

Tension-type Headaches

Tension-type headaches are the most frequently occurring headaches which can be caused by physical, mental, or emotional stressors such as:

  • Jaw clenching/teeth grinding
  • Poor posture
  • Difficult or prolonged physical labour
  • Visual strain (driving, reading, screen time)

Tension-type headaches follow a pattern that is primarily on both sides of the head, from the back of the head to the front, with a feeling of a band-like pain, tightness or pressure. The timing of this headache is worse towards the end of the day and can last for 3 to 4 days. Commonly this headache is resolved with rest, painkillers, and movements that relax tensed muscles, such as physical therapies. 

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are the most common severe recurrent headache. Studies show women are affected three times more than men. Affecting those from the ages of 12-40. Migraines are known to occur at the end of stressful periods, such as waking up with a migraine on the weekend, during the holidays, or during times of high levels of life stress. 

Migraines originate in specific patterns of attacks. The pain pattern of a migraine is one-sided, circulating around either the forehead, eye, or back of the head and is often described as a moderate to severe throbbing pulsating headache lasting from 4 hours up to 3 days. There are certain things that can onset a migraine, such as:

  • Bright lights 
  • Noise 
  • Hunger 
  • Physical Activity 

Some things that can offset or help reduce the intensity of migraine are:

  • Analgesics/painkillers 
  • Dark, quiet room
  • Rest, sleep 
  • Cold ice packs 

How South Edmonton Chiropractic Centre can help?

how chiropractors can help with headachesChiropractors are licensed doctors that can assess, diagnose, and manage those suffering from headaches. Spinal manipulation, also known as adjustments, is a type of manual therapy performed by chiropractors. These adjustments are done on segments of the spine to help reduce pain, muscle soreness, and stiffness and increase the range of motion in joints.

Current evidence reveals that chiropractic care can help decrease the intensity and frequency of headaches. Studies also suggest manual therapies, including chiropractic care, are known to help reduce short-term and long-term effects of headaches.

Examples of Treatments:

  1. Muscle Stretching,
  2. Joint Mobilization,
  3. Trigger Point Therapy,
  4. Active Release Therapy,
  5. and Neck Adjustments.  

We’ve been serving individuals and families in the southside community of Edmonton for over 20 years. Contact us here to book an appointment regarding pain management. Learn more about our various services by following the links below.

Chiropractic Services

Physiotherapy Services

Massage Services


Bronfort G, Haas M, Evans RL, Bouter LM. Efficacy of spinal manipulation and mobilization for low back pain and neck pain: a systematic review and best evidence synthesis. Spine J. 2004 May-Jun;4(3):335-56. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2003.06.002. PMID: 15125860.

Castien RF, van der Windt DA, Grooten A, Dekker J. Effectiveness of manual therapy for chronic tension-type headache: a pragmatic, randomised, clinical trial. Cephalalgia. 2011 Jan;31(2):133-43. doi: 10.1177/0333102410377362. Epub 2010 Jul 20. PMID: 20647241.

 Souza TA. Differential diagnosis and management for the chiropractor: protocols and algorithms. Fifth edition. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2016. 1320 p