It is normal to have a headache every now and then because of stress, lack of sleep, hunger, weather changes or sinus issues.

In fact, nine out of ten Americans are reported to suffer from some form of headache on a daily basis.

However, it is not normal when a headache persists beyond a day or two. Living with a constant headache can be a nightmare. It can interfere with daily activities and significantly alter your quality of life.

How can you determine if your headache is normal? A doctor or a chiropractor can assess your symptoms and diagnose you with one of many different types of headaches.

Types of Headaches

Tension headaches
Cervicogenic headaches
Sinus headaches

Tension Headaches

These are the most common type of headache, occurring in three out of four people. A tension headache will present as a dull ache on both sides of the head. It eventually progresses to an intense squeezing pain that can extend to the neck and shoulders, too.

Common triggers include fatigue, psychological stress, muscular (especially jaw) problems, caffeine withdrawal or certain medications. Recurring tension headaches respond well to chiropractic care.

Cervicogenic Headaches

These headaches are caused by problems or pathologies in the neck. A cervicogenic headache will cause pain usually on one side of the head and around the eye, and neck stiffness. Often it can become difficult to move the neck.

Causes of cervicogenic headaches include degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, slipped disc, whiplash, poor posture, falls or pinched nerves in the cervical spine. Chiropractic manipulation by experts can prove very useful in treating the underlying causes of cervicogenic headaches.

A trained chiropractor can perform spinal manipulation on the cervical spine to treat cervicogenic headaches. Joint mobilization (which involves passive movement of the joints) can also treat cervicogenic headaches.


A migraine is one of the most severe, and often debilitating, types of headache. It can begin with an aura— a range of preceding sensory symptoms such as seeing flashes of light, floaters and fallers, nausea or dizziness. It then proceeds to intense, throbbing pain on one side of head accompanied by nausea, vomiting, photosensitivity and intolerance to sound and smells.

Triggers for migraines differ from person to person. Some of them include irregular sleeping patterns, sharp smells, flashing lights, hormonal imbalances, stress or exhaustion. Chiropractic techniques that improve spinal function have proven to help patients suffering from migraines. A chiropractor can also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes that can eliminate migraine triggers.

Sinus Headaches

These are caused by inflammation of the sinuses due to cold, allergies or the flu. Sinus headaches can be intense but they are usually short-lived. They cause pain in the face that worsens on bending, pressure around the sinuses, runny nose and cough. Sinus headaches are diagnosed and treated by primary care physicians or otolaryngologists.


Headaches are broadly divided into tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches, migraines and sinus headaches. They can be triggered by many factors including stress, poor sleep, hunger, allergies, fatigue or medications. Chiropractic techniques such as spinal manipulation are an effective, drug-free way to manage and treat headaches such as cervicogenic, tension type and migraines.

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