Tips for Managing Chronic Headaches - Newsletter

Tips for Managing Chronic Headaches

Chronic headaches and migraines impact millions of people every year with almost 3 to 5 percent of all Americans dealing with chronic headaches at some point during their lifetime. Chronic headaches can become a nuisance that can put a screeching halt to all of your plans on any given day. They also can prevent you from doing the things you love most until the pain subsides and you start feeling better. If your chronic headache persists, consult with a qualified healthcare professional.

We've highlighted some of the most common types of chronic headaches and some tips on how to manage them when they pop up.

Different Types of Chronic Headaches

Not every chronic headache is the same. Headaches can cause pain or discomfort in different areas, can stem from a variety of different causes, showcase plenty of unique symptoms, and last for different periods of time. Depending on the type of chronic headache, it can cause discomfort and pain in addition to other common symptoms including dizziness, pain on one side or both sides of the head, pain that increases with physical activity, pressure-like pain, throbbing pain, and nausea.

Every type of chronic headache can also stem from plenty of different causes and contributing factors including but not limited to new medications, mood disorders, anxiety, poor sleep patterns, depression, excessive caffeine, stress, physical trauma, surgery, obesity, and more.

There are a multitude of different types of chronic headaches you can experience, but some of the most common chronic headaches include chronic migraines, post-traumatic headaches, tension headaches, persistent headaches, stress headaches, cluster headaches, and disorder-related headaches.

Chronic Migraine

Chronic migraines often come and go with regular occurrence and are more severe than traditional headaches. Some individuals can develop chronic migraines with behavior or lifestyle changes such as when you're stressed over new changes in your daily routine and in other cases it can stem from new medication. Many individuals experience chronic headaches that can eventually develop into chronic migraines that occur daily.

Post-Traumatic Headaches

Post-traumatic headaches are a different kind of chronic headache that can occur after some sort of physical trauma to the head or neck area. This kind of headache often stems from an injury like a concussion and can develop into a chronic issue over time.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are one of the most common headaches patients frequently complain about as they can cause pain around your forehead and all the way around the sides and to the back. While tension headaches typically don't cause a screeching halt to the day's activities, they can persist throughout the day and become a nagging issue that can distract you all day long.

Persistent Headaches

Ever wake up and feel sore all day? Well, this kind of headache is similar in that individuals can often wake up and start to feel a headache that persists all throughout the day with no clear onset or trigger that causes it. These types of chronic headaches can often present themselves in a variety of different ways because they can seem like a regular tension headache or it can be searing pain like a migraine.

Disorder-related Headaches

A more recent and new type of chronic headache are the ones that are the result of other types of disorders that can cause headache-like symptoms. A good example could be a nasal, eye, or ear issue that could cause you to experience headaches as a symptom of another underlying issue or cause for concern.

These types of headaches can be difficult to pin down because they are often the result of some other health concern that needs to be addressed first to clear up the pain that the headache may be causing.

Effective Ways to Manage Chronic Headaches

Chronic headaches don't have to slow you down! There are a few effective ways you can manage chronic headaches including treating them with physical therapy. Physical therapy can be a great treatment option to alleviate headaches. In addition to physical therapy, we've highlighted some other effective ways you can manage chronic headaches.

Get a Proper Medical Evaluation

Oftentimes, a headache is a precursor or a sign of something that needs your attention. Your body is sending a signal that something is wrong and needs to be checked out. Sometimes it can be as simple as being overwhelmed at work or feeling stressed from lifestyle changes, or it can be a symptom of a much bigger issue. If you find that you're dealing with chronic headaches, you should get a proper medical evaluation from a qualified healthcare professional or licensed physical therapist.

Getting a proper medical evaluation can help to ensure that you understand what could be causing the chronic headaches and help you get on an effective treatment plan that will alleviate pain from chronic headaches. A licensed physical therapist or qualified healthcare professional will work with you to mitigate the underlying causes and contributors to your chronic headaches.

Avoid Drastic Changes In Your Routine

One of the many causes for individuals to develop chronic headaches and migraines is by making dramatic shifts in their daily routine and the stress that can stem from those types of events. Stressful events that throw off your normal routine like conducting a move to a new living space, switching jobs, trying a new fad diet, and more can throw both your brain and your body out of whack. One of the ways that your body could potentially cope with the sudden and drastic change in your lifestyle is by causing headaches that persist over time.

Both your body and your brain like to keep a consistent lifestyle and change can certainly upset the balance for both. Try to avoid any drastic changes in your routine to cut down on the potential headaches that could pop up from time to time.

Prioritize a Healthy Diet

One of the big things that could potentially cause chronic headaches is a shift in your diet. There are so many new fad diets out there that call for you to boycott certain foods, drinks, micronutrients, and more. The problem with these fad diets, in addition to the limited research for many of them, is that they often call for a dramatic shift in your diet seemingly overnight and don't give you enough time to gradually let your body adjust.

A rapid change in your diet can cause your body to send a response that causes you to develop chronic headaches. If you find that you've started to experience chronic headaches after a drastic change in your food and drink consumption, try to cut back on the drastic change and get to a regular diet that is closer to the recommended dietary guidelines for adults.

In addition to getting back to a healthy diet, try to avoid skipping meals or forcing yourself to only eat during certain periods of the day. Take the time to make sure you're also getting enough water per day, as dehydration may also lead to headaches.

Get Ample Sleep and Recovery Time

Sleep and dedicated periods of recovery time play a key role in helping your body recover from all the things you do on a daily basis. It's important to remember that your sleep and dedicated recovery times give you a key opportunity to rest and recover from all of the day's taxing events like working out, work, and any injuries you're currently trying to recover from. Without getting the proper amount of sleep, your body can't dedicate enough time and energy to recharge the batteries for the day ahead or heal from an injury efficiently.

Try to get the recommended amount of sleep every single night for your age group to ensure that you're giving your body enough time to recover and decompress so you're not stressing out the next day.

Create a Journal

The next way to manage and deal with chronic headaches is to do your part and try to identify potential contributors that cause your headaches. One of the best ways to do this is to create a journal and write down when your headache started, what day, and the activities you did beforehand. In doing so, you might be able to find common threads that exist between certain activities, stressors throughout the day, or food and beverages that you consumed and were precursors to an onset of a chronic headache.

It's also important to create a journal on the days where you don't have a chronic headache because it can help to eliminate potential threads where there are none. A good example is working out every single day. If you create a journal and find that you had a headache on Monday and Wednesday after you worked out, you might come to the false conclusion that working out is the issue. The problem is that you work out every other day and might not have headaches on those days. As the saying goes, correlation isn't causation.

Keeping a journal and writing down notes each day can help you identify potential contributors that could be causing your chronic headaches and give you additional feedback to provide to your healthcare professional or licensed physical therapist.

Keep a Positive Attitude

When dealing with chronic headaches, it can be relatively easy to get into a perpetual bad mood and feel hopeless because you think you're going to deal with chronic headaches forever. Try to keep a positive attitude and be optimistic about overcoming the pain you experience. Even things like your mood can potentially play into developing a chronic headache. Overcoming chronic headaches can seem difficult at first, but there are ways to manage and treat chronic headaches, which is always something to be positive about.

Treat Chronic Headaches with Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be a great way to treat and manage headaches and other types of head and neck pain. Headaches can be caused by many things and working with a qualified and licensed physical therapist can be a great way to identify the underlying cause and begin treating the issue at its source.

Schedule an appointment today at a local physical therapy clinic near you to treat your chronic headaches.


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