Most people suffer from headaches from time to time throughout their life. Headaches are judged and graded based on three factors; frequency, duration and intensity. Some people have frequent headaches, maybe even daily headaches. Others might only have a headache once or twice a year. Some forms of headaches, such as cluster headaches are very frequent and a person can have many short-lived headaches in one day. Other headaches such as classical migraines may only affect a person once in their lifetime. Duration of headaches also helps us classify the headache cause and helps in their treatment. Cluster headaches may last only a few minutes, while a tension type headache might last several weeks. Migraines usually last one day and are frequently gone when the person wakes up the next morning. Sometimes, however migraines may last several days in a row, and the cause of the migraine will often determine how long the headache lasts. The intensity of the headache can also be a clue as to its cause. An extremely intense headache that the person says he/she has never experienced before might be indicative of an aneurism that requires immediate surgical intervention to prevent catastrophe. A mild headache can sometimes result from a viral illness, or being in a smoky room. However, it is wrong to assume that a severe headache is serious and a mild headache is not serious. Sometimes very mild headaches might indicate a more serious underlying problem. Also, it is important to determine if the headache is the only issue or if the headache is accompanied by other symptoms. A headache that always happens along with a stiff, sore neck, and usually happens mid-morning and persists until the person takes a hot shower and rests, is probably a neck disorder. It is likely that the headache results from joint and soft tissue irritation in the cervical spine (neck) which then leads to muscle tightness, vascular congestion, and then head and neck pain is the result. However, a sudden, intense headache along with a very stiff neck and a fever that has never happened before may be the result of meningitis. This is a very serious illness that requires immediate, emergency medical attention. What you can see is that the intensity, duration and frequency of headaches is important in making a proper headache diagnosis, however, they don’t lead to a conclusive diagnosis all by themselves. Physical exam, x-rays, CT, MRI, blood tests, and perhaps neurological testing might be required to come to a conclusion as to the cause of the headaches. The vast majority of people who consult a chiropractor for treatment of their headaches have long term, chronic, frequent headaches. They have headaches several times a week and these headaches are bad enough to substantially interfere with the person’s life. They cannot concentrate. They have constant pain and cannot communicate or function properly. Their social life suffers because they don’t feel like being with other people, or going out, or socializing. Their sex life suffers. They don’t feel like playing with their children. Headaches are not fun. After a diagnosis is made the chiropractor will explain the suggested course of therapy to the patient. It may involve exercises, dietary changes, a new pillow, and will likely involve some treatment to the person’s neck, if the neck is found to be the source of the headaches. Many of these patients have what are called “multifactorial” headaches. That means that there are many causes of the headaches, and as a result any of those causes that can be addressed, should be. Some of the causes include stress, smoke or other air pollutants, diet, hormones, weather, sleep disturbances, posture, habits, and problems in the joints and muscles of the neck. If the headaches are caused 90% by neck problems, and 10% by hormonal changes, then it is likely that the chiropractor can fix the headaches by at least 90%. If the headaches are caused 10% by neck problems and 90% by low atmospheric pressure systems in the area, then it is likely the chiropractor will be able to fix the headaches by only 10%. It is very rare that a patient attends a chiropractor’s office for headache treatment and they don’t get relief. After lower back pain, headaches are the most common condition treated in my office. I am a consultant for the Richmond Hill Headache and Neck Pain Clinic which is a group of doctors, pain specialists, and neurologists who exclusively treat patients with headaches. The family doctor will refer the patient to this clinic to be assessed by the headache experts. If they feel the headache is something that a chiropractor can help with they are referred to my clinic. It is very common that the patient will obtain positive results after just one or two treatments. In summary, the cause of the headaches must first be ascertained, and then treatment can begin. Medication is just a masking agent that may dull the pain for a while. All medication has side effects and should be avoided if at all possible. If a natural and effective treatment can relieve the headaches, perhaps permanently, why take mediation for temporary relief. Sometimes a lifestyle change is needed to help the chiropractor help the patient relieve their headaches. Find a good chiropractor who has lots of experience treating patients with headaches. Listen carefully to what that chiropractor tells you. Follow the advice and there is a very strong likelihood that your headaches will be greatly relieved, or even completely eliminated.