What is causing my headache.

headaches migraine tmj Aug 14, 2016

There are many types of headaches and just as many causes of headaches.

Rest assured that majority of headaches are not serious - they can be debilitating and frustrating but mostly headaches are more a sign that something is amiss rather than a sign of a serious problem.  

However - never ignore a persistent or an extreme headache, especially one that wakes you up or causes speech problems or numbness.  If you have these symptoms, then seek urgent medical help.

To help you understand your headache and some of the causes and symptoms let's start by taking a look at the different types of headaches and what causes them.

A Sinus Headache

This kind of a headache is felt in the front of your face behind your eyes and into the top of your cheekbones.  It can be an intense stabbing pain that is often accompanied by a cold of the flu or seasonal allergies.  

The sinus cavity becomes irritated and inflamed or fills up with mucus and infection causing the discomfort.  Relieving this pressure and allowing the sinus to drain will help alleviate this type of headache.


A Cluster Headache

Is a series of usually short but intensely painful headaches that happen every day for weeks or months at a time.  They affect one eye only and are the rarest of all the headache types.  They affect about 1 person in every 1000's and are much more common in men than women.

Cluster headaches are caused by the trigeminal nerve which runs deep into the brain. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for sensations such as heat or pain in your face. It's near your eye, and it branches up to your forehead, across your cheek, down your jawline, and above your ear on the same side.

It has a burning or piercing quality and is very painful.  They appear to be linked to circadian rhythms and happen at the same time every day from between one week and up to 3 months.  They can then vanish of their own accord. Sometimes for years.

 They have been linked to heavy drinking.  

The don't cause nausea and vomiting.

There are pharmaceutical drugs that can help. Also breathing techniques and relaxation therapy has proven effects on helping cluster headaches and extending periods between attacks.

 The attacks typically last between 30 minutes and 3 hours.

Neck and Tension Headaches

Also called stress headache.  These are by far the most common type of headache and as the name suggests is caused by tension and stress usually in the muscles of the shoulders and neck.

These headaches are often caused by poor posture, jaw clenching and teeth grinding, bright lights and you guessed it working on computers.

The symptoms are:

Dull and persistent pain that is mild to moderate and is usually felt on both sides of the head or neck.

A constant, tight, heavy or pressing sensation on or around the head especially at the lower back of the head and up into the forehead.

Tight and tender of scalp, neck and shoulder muscles.

Neck movements are restricted by muscle pain and discomfort.

Mild sensitivity to light and noise.

Nausea and indigestion.

Trouble concentrating and difficulty sleeping.

Depression and anxiety are very common with this type of headache.

These types of headaches are relatively easy to help with relaxation techniques, massage,  taking physical and mental breaks to allow your body to relax and getting your posture checked and maintained is also very beneficial.

Migraine Headaches


A migraine headache is typically a severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It's often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraine headaches can cause significant pain for hours to days and can be so severe that the pain is disabling.

Migraines are often preceded by an aura . These can include flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face or in your arm or leg. Numbness and loss of smell are also common with Migraine headaches.

Migraines can be successfully managed with medications and lifestyle adjustments.  

TMJ Headaches.


A disorder on its own -  TMJ dysfunction also causes headaches.


Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear. It lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn.

Common symptoms include:

Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide.

Problems when you try to open your mouth wide.

Jaws that get "stuck" or "lock" in the open- or closed-mouth position.

Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful.

A tired feeling in your face

Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite -- as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly.

Swelling on the side of your face.

You may also have toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).


If you are struggling with any headache issues and would like to eliminate postural problems and misaligments as the cause, then we can help.  If you just want to stop taking or being dependent on drugs or medication, then give us a call we see hundreds of people every year with headaches of all types.

We can assist in helping you work out the type of headache you have and the best way forward to getting relief from them.


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