If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from debilitating headaches and migraines, you know that finding relief can be a challenge. It’s easy to feel frustrated and hopeless when every possible solution seems to fail. But before you give up, it’s important to understand the difference between headaches and migraines. With the right information and treatment plan, you can start feeling like yourself again. So keep reading, and let us help you reinvite hope into your life.
Headaches versus migraines. What’s the difference?
We can split these two into a very basic explanation. But first, we need to look at how our brain is cushioned inside our heads. The brain, being big, squishy, and spongy, sits inside a fluid-filled water balloon. This “water balloon “ is believed to be where migraines originated.
We think of migraines as taking place within the skull.
It’s no secret that migraines can be incredibly debilitating. For some people, the mere thought of having one is enough to cause anxiety. So, where do migraines come from? It turns out that the answer is quite simple.
Migraines are caused by the skin outside of the brain being irritated. This can be caused by several things, including stress, hormones, and metabolic processes. Anything that is chemically oriented within the brain can cause the water balloon skin to become irritated and lead to a migraine.
Whereas a headache takes place outside of the skull.
On the other hand, a headache starts outside of the head. It can happen for many different reasons. We can have frontal headaches from trigeminal neuralgia to the nerve irritation that goes into the face. We’ve seen a lot of patients with headaches that come from the jaws (temporomandibular joint or TMJ) as they can be irritated, This can cause that same kind of trigeminal-like headache.
Sometimes when you have a pain in your jaw, it might feel like the pain is coming from a different place. That’s because the nerves that carry the signals from your jaw go to other parts of your head too. So if it hurts around your jawline, it might feel like the pain is coming from somewhere else in your head.
A chain reaction of headaches
One of the areas that can cause problems is further down your spine. These are called cervicogenic headaches. This means the headaches are coming from your neck. Now, one of the challenges is if you have a lot of problems coming from your neck that are causing pain. Usually, your neck is not moving very well and this can make it so that your jaw sits a little bit differently to cause not only a cervicogenic headache at the neck, temporomandibular joint dysfunction with your jaw, and then trigeminal issues all at the same time.
That’s why we see a lot of patients come in and they say, “ Well, my headache usually starts at the back of my head, but then it encompasses the entirety of my head. ” It’s because all of these things are connected and it sets off a chain reaction that can evolve into multiple different headaches that overlap at the same time.
Not every type of headache gets treated the same way
One of the problems that people have is when they’re trying to get treated for headaches. They see somebody who thinks headaches are only one of those things mentioned above. They may sometimes not appreciate that it could be all of those at the same time. Moreover, not every single one of those conditions gets the same treatment.
The three types of headaches we used to know are quite different now. There’s tension, stress, and migraine- kind of like it was before but with more subtypes. Now that we’ve understood or dissected the different causes of headaches, we realized how different they are and how each one responds to an entirely different type of treatment.
That is why it is important to see a practitioner or a group of practitioners if you are having headaches. If the headaches are not going away, you need to see someone who understands how the mechanics of the head and also the physiology of the brain.
We, at Wellward, go through the HEAL methodology with all of our migraine patients. HEAL is our acronym standing for
- H – hearing the message that the body is trying to convey with pain
- E – envisioning what your goals are
- A – alleviating some of the pain
- L – leveraging repair mechanisms
This is followed through so that the pains you have don’t become as much of a recurrent problem. Although, we would say the most important step in that whole process is the first one: hearing the message that your body’s conveying with pain. Through dissecting apart the origins of that headache, we get to understand what is, where the pain starts and how does that evolve to encompass the complexity of headaches that we see.
Say, for instance, somebody comes in having headaches and it seems like everything’s coming all over the place. Where do they start aiming for relief with Wellward’s help?
We would start with the process of looking for the origins of pain and numbing very discrete elements of the whole brain complex or the neck complex.
Here’s a scenario: Somebody comes in and tells us, “ I constantly have headaches in the back of my head. ”
We’re then going to start looking at the joints of the neck and seeing how well they’re functioning. Next is to examine and see where the focal points of pain are. We’re going to use a local anesthetic to numb those discrete parts and see how that pain evolves or changes. We will expect to see whether there will be a reduction in frequency, reduction in intensity, or just an overall diminishing presence of pain or headaches until we can isolate where the origin is.
Now that we have this information, we need to find treatments that will help keep this from happening again. This might mean numbing the nerves for a longer time, doing exercises and rehabilitation to better align the neck, or doing some advanced techniques like regenerative therapies to create stability around structures that are weak and too mobile.
What if there’s something going on in the brain along with the headaches?
There are many things we can look at to improve our health. There are new medications that can help with migraines. We used to only have a few different medications that could help, but now we have many different options. We can look at our lifestyles and what might be contributing to our migraines, as well as chemically modify the chemicals in our brains.
It seems like everything that could be causing some degree of a headache can be teased out pretty well. But still, it sounds like it’s a complex issue. And indeed, It is. If you’ve been dealing with headaches for a long time, you may have started to adopt the notion that it’s just not repairable.
If you have come to a point where you’ve lost hope for relief, it’s very difficult to reinvite that hope back into your life. However, we encourage you to do so because we take a comprehensive approach to managing these issues. Every individual deserves dedicated care.
If you’re one of the 38 million Americans who suffer from migraines, you know that finding relief can be a challenge. The good news is that there are ways to get long-lasting relief and Wellward Health is here to help. Our team of experts has developed the HEAL methodology, which takes into account all aspects of your health – physical, emotional, and environmental – to provide holistic care for migraine sufferers. We understand how debilitating migraines can be and we want to help you reclaim your life. To find out more about our approach and how we can help you, schedule a free discovery call today. We look forward to hearing from you!