Do you or someone you know suffer from headaches?  You’re not alone.  Almost everybody gets them at some point, making them one of the most common health complaints.  Headaches can be divided into two groups: primary and secondary.  Primary headaches are the main medical problem, whereas, secondary headaches are a result of an underlying medical condition (such as sinusitis, hypertension, infection, etc).  There are several different types of headaches but the following are the most common: Tension, migraines, and cluster headaches.

Tension Headaches
This is the most common type of headache.  It is usually caused by muscle tension, stress, and poor sleep.  The pain typically builds slowly and is located on or around both sides of the head and neck.  

This type of headache may be treated with massage, yoga, chiropractor, adequate sleep, or over-the-counter pain relievers.  Chronic tension headaches may require prescription medication from your doctor.  

Migraines are often intense, throbbing pain that may be accompanied with vomiting, nausea, light sensitivity, and decreased appetite.  It is commonly due to genetics but they may also be linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain.  

Most migraines are infrequent and can be treated on their own with over-the-counter medication.  They may require medical attention if they become debilitating.  

Cluster Headaches
This type of headache is characterized by a sudden onset of severe pain, generally behind one eye.  They are the most severe type of headache but are less common than tension headaches and migraines.  They tend to occur in groups, lasting 1-3 hours, sometimes daily or multiple times a day.  Cluster headaches can be caused by certain triggers such as alcohol, bright light, heat, and foods that contain nitrates. There is no known cure, however lifestyle changes and certain prescription medications may help relieve the pain and decrease the frequency of cluster headaches. 

Other Types of Headaches

  • Allergy or sinus headache
  • Caffeine headache
  • Hormone headache
  • Hemicrania continua headache
  • Hypertension headache
  • Rebound headache
  • Post-traumatic headache
  • Exertion headache
  • Spinal headache
  • Thunderclap headache
  • Ice pick headache

Headache Red Flags

Seek medical attention if any of the following occurs:

  • You’re experiencing “the worst headache you’ve ever had”
  • Loss of vision 
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Uncontrollable vomiting
  • Your headache lasts more than 72 hours with less than 4 hours pain-free
  • Fever
  • Slurred speech

What Foods are Good for Headache Relief?

Some foods contain certain nutritional vitamins, minerals, and other elements that can help to relieve headaches.  This may include:

  • Leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli, etc)
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts)
  • Fatty fish (salmon, cod, mackerel, halibut)
  • Fruits (apricots, avocados, bananas, figs, raspberries, melon, etc)
  • Seeds (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, barley, whole oats, whole grain bread)
  • Legumes (lentils, beans, peas, soybeans, chickpeas)
  • Hot peppers (jalapenos, habaneros, cayenne)
  • Ginger
  • Dark chocolate

Other Ways to Treat a Headache

  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Head, neck, and scalp massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Go for a walk
  • Stretch your neck and pectorals
  • Rest
  • Take a hot shower or bath
  • Heating pad or hot compress on tight muscles
  • Drink plenty of water

Massage and Headaches

Massage can be very effective in relieving pain from a headache.  It works to relax those tight muscles and decrease adhesions and trigger points that may be causing a headache.  A neck, scalp, and face treatment with added essential oil is a great way to help reduce pain.  I often incorporate neck stretches to target those shortened muscles and decrease tension.  

If you, or someone you know, suffers from headaches then don’t wait to book your next massage treatment with me!








Becki French

Becki French


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