What’s Causing Your Chronic Headaches?

If you’re one of the 90% of Americans living with chronic headaches, you know firsthand how relentless and debilitating they can be. You don’t have to grit your teeth and suffer through your symptoms anymore. And, no, you don’t have to turn to risky medications to get back on your feet again either. 

At Apex Integrated Medical Center in Chicago’s West Loop, our experienced team understands the complex nature of headache disorders. That’s why we offer customized treatment plans for all types of headaches, from tension and clusters to chronic migraines.

The first step is identifying what’s triggering your headache symptoms. Once we know the cause of your condition, we can outline the most effective treatment strategy to get your symptoms under control.

What really hurts when you have a headache

Headache disorders are far more complex than most people realize. While you may think your brain is the cause of your problem, it actually can’t feel pain. Instead, headaches develop because of the pain-sensitive blood vessels, nerves, brain chemicals, and muscles in your head and neck. Each of these areas can activate nerves in the region that send pain signals to your brain, which triggers your headache symptoms. This complicated activity can produce more than 150 different kinds of headaches organized into two distinct categories: primary and secondary.

Primary headaches

Common examples of primary headaches include migraines, tension, and cluster. These headaches start because of problems with, or overactivity in, the pain-sensitive areas in your head. Primary headaches make up 95% of headache disorders.

Secondary headaches

You might have a secondary headache if you have the flu, are dehydrated, or eat something really cold. These types of headaches develop because another issue activates the pain-sensitive nerves in your head. 

Common causes of headache pain

Identifying the cause of your headache is a crucial step in getting your headache disorder under control. Even though we often associate headaches with being sick, the illness only causes 5% of headaches. The leading causes of most primary headaches include stress, environment, and genetics. 

Stress

Both physical and emotional stress can trigger headache symptoms. These types of causes include:

Headache disorders can also be due to muscle strain and joint irritation. These issues can arise from clenching or grinding your teeth, poor posture, or spending long periods in front of computers, phones, or tablets.

Environment

Some headaches can be due to your environment, such as: 

You can also develop headaches from certain kinds of sensory stimuli, like noise, lights, or strong aromas. 

Genetics

In some cases, headache disorders, especially migraines, can be hereditary. In fact, if your parent has migraines, your chances are 25-50% higher of developing this headache disorder. Your chances jump to 70% if both of your parents have migraines.

Treating chronic headaches

Instead of treating symptoms with medication alone, our team takes a whole-body approach to manage your specific headache disorder. After working closely with you to identify your triggers, we might recommend a combination of chiropractic care approaches, including:

We also offer stress management techniques to promote relaxation and relieve tension throughout your entire body.

To learn more about the cause of your chronic headaches, contact us and schedule an appointment today.

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