Headaches are one of the most common health complaints and something everyone is familiar with. However they 're often difficult to treat because they vary so greatly in type and intensity. Neurologists devote entire careers to them. Pharmacies to devote aisles to their remedies. They're an interesting dichotomy.
Many people think headaches are related to the brain; however, the brain itself doesn't feel pain. Although it is almost entirely composed of neurons it doesn't have a single pain neuron. Neurosurgeons actually perform some operations with the patient partially awake and the patient won't feel a thing. However, the areas around the brain can be extremely painful which leads us to what actually causes headaches.
What Are the various types of headaches?
The Tension Headache. The most common headache is called a tension headache. Your scalp has a wide variety of different nerves and tension headaches arise from a pair of nerves beginning at the base of your skull then wrap around the back of your head. These are called the greater occipital nerve(s). They wind through a large muscle (the trapezius) at the base of your skull. Carrying stress or hunching over a laptop screen strains these muscles by tensing the shoulders. When the greater occipital nerves pass through these tight muscles, they become pinched resulting in a tension headache. If you're struggling with a headache that starts at the base of your skull and shoots to the crown, you're likely dealing with a tension headache.
The Rebound Headache. Another common type of headache is called a rebound headache. When people suffer chronic headaches they end up taking over the counter pain medications as frequently as possible. Unfortunately , when done habitually, this causes a paradoxical effect and the medications actually sensitize pain fibers which only intensifies the headaches that were there in the first place!
The Eye Strain Headache. In our digital age, eye strain headaches are quite common. They're most frequent after driving or staring at a screen for periods of time. Often they're described as a "headache behind the eyes" and can be accompanied by:
Seeing Past an Eye Strain Headache
One of the most common causes of eye strain headaches is prolonged staring at a phone or computer screen. Combating eye strain headache is simple with the "20-20-20 Rule:" every 20 minutes you look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is also a good time to stimulate tear production by intentionally blinking. Dry eyes are common when we remain focused on our screens too long.
Another simple way to prevent and relieve eye strain headaches is by using a pair of over the counter reading glasses. If you've never worn glasses then it's best to start with the lowest magnification (+.75 or +1.0) to give your eyes time to adjust. You can order stylish frames like these from Vision World Eyeware or purchase them over the counter.
Breaking the cycle of Recurring Headaches
The treatment for headaches depends entirely on its cause. For example, rebound headaches are cured by completely quitting over the counter medications (Tylenol, Motrin, Advil, etc). You'll feel miserable for a couple of days but usually the headache resolves on its own. If you’re consistently medicating your headaches more than two days a week, stop and ask yourself if you could be dealing with a rebound headache.
When You're Dealing With a Stiff Neck and Headache
When you're struggling with both neck pain and a headache, it's most likely due to tense muscles. Tension headaches are extremely common because we spend a significant amount of time slumped over laptops and phones. Sustaining this position for prolonged amounts of time causes your neck and shoulder muscles to tighten, which pinches the greater occipital nerves, causing a tension headache.
The best solution for neck pain and tension headaches is to correct your posture. The Well Desk XenStand is a light, portable laptop stand that fits in a computer bag for use wherever you need to get your work done. It is uniquely versatile in that it offers three different height options making it truly customizable for any user.
Headaches have plagued us all and often their exact cause can be elusive. If you're struggling with a severe or persistent headache, you should see a doctor to eliminate more concerning possibilities. However, most headaches are simply the cause of prolonged strain or tension. So sit up straight, put down those pills and try some more permanent solutions.
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