Headaches – some of the different kinds

Did you know there are probably 100s of different headaches?

if you get picky about it there are likely 100s of different types, subtypes and such of headaches…

but if you break it down there are to major classes and several that fall in these classes.  I will briefly go over a few of the different common kinds of headaches in this post… maybe you can find your ‘favourite’ (or the flavour of headache you usually get)

Headache causes and symptoms

Two major classes

there are two major classes of headache really:  Chronic and Remitting

Chronic meaning that it is there with the person throbbing away or being its fun dull nastiness all of the time with no break. Not fun.

Remitting meaning that they come and go – this can be in all kinds of different frequencies…

Different kinds of headaches

Here is a short list of the most common headache types I see:

Tension Headache

Cervicogenic headache

Migraine Headache

Sinus Headache

Cluster Headache

Image result for tension headache

Tension headache

So these are probably the most common type of headache and can affect kids and adults and teens.  They come and go over type and can be accompanied with tight muscles in the neck and face.   These are often associated with poor posture, computer and device use.   I see lots of these with students too.  The pain location can vary between individuals . Length of headache and frequency and intensity also vary.

Chiro treatment can help these immensely!

Cervicogenic headache

These are very similar to tension type and affect the same group.  Pain areas often incorporate the back of the neck and head then spreads to other areas of the head.  On examination with a chiropractor it is determined that the joins of the neck or cervical spine are the likely culprit for these headaches with the pain being referred to the head from a disorder in the joints.

Guess what – this one is spine associated therefore chiropractic can help this tons too!


These come in all shapes and sizes, some with aura, some with out – aura are symptoms other than pain that is associated with the migraine.  Oh don’t worry there is pain too, we will get to that…

An aura can come in the form of visual changes – flashing lights, narrowing of vision – I have even heard of some people who temporarily lose their sight all together.  You can have auditory changes (hearing), symptoms like numbness and tingling, nausea, gastrointestinal upset, if you can think of some sort of sensory change-  it can probably be an aura.   The aura usually precedes the pain of the migraine and so the migraine sufferer knows it is coming.  Not all migraines have auras though.

The pain of a migraine is usually described as intense, one sided (one side of the head) and unrelenting for a time.  Many sufferers report light sensitivity, sensitivity to sound and other stimuli. Often people say they need to go to sleep to relieve the migraine.

Regular chiropractic treatment has been shown to decrease the intensity and frequency of migraines.

Sinus headaches

Usually this is due to sinus infection, chronic sinus irritation or some sort of sinus inflammation or other irritation.  We have all experienced sinus pressure due to a bad cold or maybe even a sinus infection.  Here the pain is the result of referral from the sinuses to other parts of the head.

If you have these take a peek at this article I posted a while ago about how to encourage your sinuses to drain – I do this lots during cold and flu season with my patients and I teach them how to do it themselves… It can really help with the pressure of a sinus headache!


So… are you noticing a theme here?  Chiropractic can help lot and lots of different kinds of headaches.  In fact I am a chiropractor today because a chiropractor once cured my headaches when I was in University. So, if you have a headache – give me a call – maybe I can help 🙂

TMJ Pain – My jaw hurts just writing this post


I am highly suggestible.  Anytime anyone comes in with jaw pain the right side of mine hurts. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint aka Jaw. The TMJ is a very complicated joint and without going into specifics it is very mobile which can make it susceptible to injury.

If you suffer with this you have probably already been to the dentist.  Maybe more than a couple different dentists.  You likely have a night guard and maybe a couple of other appliances.  They help a lot, some or not at all. So now what?  My friend, who is a dentist helped me with this post … He didn’t like my line about a couple of dentists above (but it does depend on who you see and I going to bet it wasn’t him…) He adds: “It’s all about position. Your teeth and muscles need to balance out so together with a dentist who knows how to balance the hardware and chiro helping out with the support, treatment is very successful”.   He is smart so I am going to agree.

Did you have any idea that a chiropractor can treat TMJ pain? So what does that mean or look like?

Here is what I typically do with patients – I will assess the jaw opening – how far does it open, is there a click somewhere on opening or closing, is the jaw opening with a shift to one side or the other – or does it open in an ‘S’ pattern?  I do a full history and examination and then…. treatment.  Usually this involves treatment of the muscles including ones right on the outside of the jaw (the Masseter muscle), the temple (Temporalis) and even ones that are intra-oral (the Pterygoids) – This hurts like hell but it works.  Usually in just a few treatments.  I also assess the neck and upper back, work on restoring the normal curves of the spine and give exercises for the jaw and neck to improve posture.  Depending upon the severity of the case we may do other things such as kinesotaping or other techniques.

Important point here – it works, it doesn’t usually take too long and it works.

Conservative care with a dentist and chiropractor can be super effective – I have a bunch of dentists referring to me now and hopefully more soon (I wrote this post upon prompting from a dentist friend in facebook-land who I actually haven’t seen in person in about 18-ish years …. now maybe eh D?)

Why I am a chiropractor

So I thought this topic would be appropriate at the start-ish of my new blog… Let’s take a journey together…. way way back in time – to where my son Leo thinks Dinosaurs roamed the Earth…. Yes, that’s right, all the way back to 1993.

I was in first year university at the University of Waterloo.  The good daughter of a pharmacist who had worked since she was 12 or 13 in a Shoppers Drug Mart  knew she wanted to be in healthcare somewhere but wasn’t sure where.

Fast forward to mid terms, or maybe it was first term finals – I really don’t know it was so so long ago (Dinosaurs you know).  Anyways, I digress, I had been studying like crazy, as usual, and had tremendous neck pain and headaches.  So much so that I would take about 100 Advil a month.

I look back on that now and think it is crazy but the fact is that there are so many people out there taking this much over the counter or even prescription medication for pain due to headaches or mechanical neck pain.

One of my friends suggested I see a chiropractor – I had never been and had no idea what to expect.  I did end up going with a friend of mine and after about 3 visits I was amazed that I no longer had headaches.  I mean at all. I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life.

Now, I do get the odd headache and I continue to see friends who are chiropractors but they are few and far between and rarely need any medication.

It was so simple and easy and, really it still is.  If this sounds like you – 100 Advil a month is not a great idea, any MD or other health practitioner will tell you so for sure. I can help you and would be honoured.  It’s not magic, its physical medicine using soft tissue techniques like massage and deep tissue, stretching and exercises as well as adjustments if they are warranted – You may be surprised that often headaches respond best to upper back adjustment so if you fall into the category of people who are nervous about neck adjustments I promise I can still help you.

By the way, in my office my rule is that we only provide treatment that is safe, effective and that you are 100% comfortable with.  It’s your body so you are in charge.  If you are not comfortable with something the dialogue is always open and I will find a way to help you that you are comfortable with that is still effective.

I would be honoured to help you.