What is a Headache?

There are four types of headache:  vascular, muscle contraction (tension), traction, and inflammatory.  The most common type of vascular headache is migraine. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one or both sides of the head, an upset stomach, and, at times, disturbed vision.   Women are more likely than men to have migraine headaches. After migraine, the most common type of vascular headache is the toxic headache produced by fever.  Other kinds of vascular headaches include “cluster” headaches, which cause repeated episodes of intense pain, and headaches resulting from high blood pressure.  Muscle contraction headaches appear to involve the tightening or tensing of facial and neck muscles. Traction and inflammatory headaches are symptoms of other disorders, ranging from stroke to sinus infection.  Like other types of pain, headaches can serve as warning signals of more serious disorders. This is particularly true for headaches caused by inflammation, including those related to meningitis as well as those resulting from diseases of the sinuses, spine, neck, ears, and teeth.

Is there any treatment?

When headaches occur three or more times a month, preventive treatment is usually recommended.  Drug therapy, biofeedback training, stress reduction, and elimination of certain foods from the diet are the most common methods of preventing and controlling migraine and other vascular headaches. Regular exercise, such as swimming or vigorous walking, can also reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.

What is the prognosis?

Not all headaches require medical attention. But some types of headache are signals of more serious disorders and call for prompt medical care. These include: sudden, severe headache or sudden headache associated with a stiff neck; headaches associated with fever, convulsions, or accompanied by confusion or loss of consciousness; headaches following a blow to the head, or associated with pain in the eye or ear; persistent headache in a person who was previously headache free; and recurring headache in children.  Migraine headaches may last a day or more and can strike as often as several times a week or as rarely as once every few years.

-Credit to the NINDS or the NIH

What are Natural Treatment Options for Headaches?

At Fit for Life Wellness & Rehabilitation Centre, Dr. Luciano Di Loreto (Chiropractor and Acupuncture Provider) & associates use a variety of techniques to treat the headaches below.  We treat individuals who suffer from headaches with acupuncture, mobilizations, stretches, adjustments, laser therapy as well as heat/cold therapy. Below is the international headache society criteria for diagnosing various types of headaches. There are five common types of headaches outlined and detailed below: Tension Type Headaches, Cluster Headaches, Migraine without Aura, Migrain with Aura and Cervicogenic Type Headaches. Do you have any of these headaches?

International Headache Society Criteria

Tension   Headaches (2.1 IHS) 

A. At least 10 episodes occurring on <1 d/month (<12 d/y) and   fulfilling criteria B-D

B. Headache lasting from 30 min to 7 days

C. Headache has ³2 of the following characteristics:

  •   1. bilateral location
  •   2. pressing/tightening (non-pulsating) quality
  •   3. mild or moderate intensity
  •   4. not aggravated by routine physical activity

D. Both of the following:

  •   1.no nausea or vomiting (anorexia may occur)
  •   2. no more   than one of photophobia or phonophobia

E. Not attributed to another disorder


Cluster Headache (3.1 IHS)

A. At least 5 attacks fulfilling criteria B-D

B. Severe or very severe unilateral orbital, supraorbital and/or   temporal pain lasting 15-180 min if untreated

C. Headache is accompanied by 1 of the following: 

  • 1. ipsilateral conjunctival injection and/or lacrimation
  • 2. ipsilateral nasal congestion and/or rhinorrhoea
  • 3. ipsilateral eyelid oedema
  • 4. ipsilateral forehead and facial sweating
  • 5. ipsilateral miosis and/or ptosis
  • 6. a sense of restlessness or agitation

D. Attacks have a frequency from 1/2 day to 8/day

E. Not attributed to another disorder

Migraine Headache – No Aura (1.1 IHS)

A. At least 5 attacks fulfilling criteria B-D

B. Headache attacks lasting 4-72 h (untreated or unsuccessfully   treated)

C. Headache has 2 of the following characteristics:

  •   1. unilateral location
  •   2. pulsating quality
  •   3. moderate or severe pain intensity
  •   4. aggravation by or causing avoidance of routine physical activity (eg, walking, climbing stairs)

D. During headache 1 of the following:

  •   1. nausea and/or vomiting
  •   2. photophobia and phonophobia

E. Not attributed to another disorder


Migraine Headache – Typical Aura (1.2.1 IHS)

A. At least 2 attacks fulfilling criteria B–D

B. Aura consisting of 1 of the following, but no motor weakness:

  •   1. fully reversible visual symptoms including positive and/or negative features
  •   2. fully reversible sensory symptoms including positive and/or negative features
  •   3. fully reversible dysphasic speech disturbance

C. At least two of the following:

  •   1. homonymous visual symptoms and/or unilateral sensory symptoms
  •   2. at least one aura symptom develops gradually over 5 min and/or different aura symptoms occur in succession over 5 min
  •   3. each symptom lasts 5 and 60 min

D. Headache fulfilling criteria B-D for 1.1 Migraine without aura begins during the aura or follows aura within 60 min

E. Not attributed to another disorder

Cervicogenic Headache (11.2.1 IHS)

A. Pain, referred from a source in the neck and perceived in one or more regions of the head and/or face, fulfilling criteria C and D

B. Clinical, laboratory and/or imaging evidence of a disorder or  lesion within the cervical spine or soft tissues of the neck known to be, or   generally accepted as, a valid cause of headache

C. Evidence that the pain can be attributed to the neck disorder or lesion based on 1 of the following:

  • 1.         demonstration of clinical signs that implicate a source of pain in the neck
  • 2.         abolition of headache following diagnostic blockade of a cervical structure or its nerve supply using placebo- or other adequate controls

D. Pain resolves within 3 months after successful treatment of the causative disorder or lesion