Chances are you haven’t met many people who have suffered from cluster headaches. This is because they only affect a tiny portion of the population. Studies suggest only about 1 in 1000 people will experience a cluster headache in their lifetime, with them being significantly more prevalent in men than women.
Women who have dealt with a cluster headache say they were significantly more painful than giving birth. Researchers who have studied the phenomenon have even dubbed them as the most excruciating type of physical suffering possible.
Mark Green, M.D., Director of the Center for Headache and Pain Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, describes cluster headaches as, “nothing quite like anything else. The pain is typically behind the eye. People say to me, ‘I have a hot poker on my eye’ and even superimposed on that deep awful pain they get sharp jabs.”
It’s no wonder why anyone suffering from cluster headaches would seek a quick and lasting solution.
Cluster Headache Symptoms
A common pseudonym for a cluster headache is “suicide headache.” This is clearly due to the extreme discomfort they can cause to individuals. Some of the features that lead a physician to classify a headache as a cluster headache are:
- Sudden discomfort
- Regular occurrences during certain specific times of the year
- Episodes lasting anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours
- Extreme pain that affects one side of the face
- Nasal congestion
- Sickness in stomach
While it is more common for symptoms to affect only one hemisphere of the head, Mark Green does mention that in very few cases there are symptoms that radiate from one side to the other similar to regular migraines.
Individuals who suffer from cluster headaches often tend to preoccupy themselves with activities such as controlled breathing or brisk walking which rarely treat symptoms but serve as valuable coping mechanisms.
Cluster Headache Characteristics
Individuals who experience cluster headaches usually have their first episode during young adulthood. Unfortunately, while episodes do not last long, they can be regular. Cluster headaches have earned the moniker of “alarm clock headaches” because of their routine nature. During a cluster headache “cycle” the headaches can occur daily for a couple of days and in some cases months. However, when a “cycle” ends, cluster headaches can cease to exist for years for some individuals while others continue to suffer year after year without reprieve.
Cluster Headache Causes
Like most types of headaches, there is no scientific consensus on why cluster headaches occur. However, since they do crop up in predictable intervals, scientists believe they could originate from the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus is responsible for coordinating many regular activities in the body such as thirst, hunger, and sleep. As such, it would make sense for cluster headaches to possibly arise from this region in the brain. Evidence has shown that during a cluster headache episode, there is a notable rise in activity in the hypothalamus.
Other possible sources of cluster headaches include chemical imbalances in the brain and a faulty nerve somewhere in the nervous system.
Conventional Cluster Headache Treatments
Since no permanent remedy exists for cluster headaches, palliative care is most common in dealing with the pain. However, since cluster headaches are generally quick, OTC medications are a poor choice due to the time it will take to feel relief.
As such, physicians are most concerned with trying to stop a cluster headache from occurring to being with. Generally, physicians attempt to give individuals treatments that provide fleeting relief until more consistent treatments are able to successfully reduce the occurrence of cluster headaches.
Again, there are drawbacks to more aggressive medical treatments since they can have a substantial number of adverse risks that can result in further health complications. In some cases, surgery is recommended. In this type of procedure, a surgeon will attempt to disable portions of the nervous system that could be causing cluster headaches. Unfortunately, this type of surgery rarely works as intended and can result in dire consequences, such as partial paralysis.
Habits for Cluster Headache Maintenance
There are a few methods to alleviate the symptoms of cluster headaches without harsh medications or treatments. These range from:
- Getting regular sleep
- Avoiding alcoholic beverages
- Avoiding cigarettes
- Improving diet
Achieving Headache Relief Naturally
There are no two ways about it, cluster headaches have no equal when it comes to the torment they cause individuals. If you or a loved one is experiencing cluster headaches, what course of action should you take?
Fortunately, there is a way to treat the symptoms of cluster headaches at the source without any potentially debilitating medications. Most who have suffered cluster headaches have searched far and wide for any source of relief, one often overlooked form of help is chiropractic care.
Headaches have always been one of the most common reasons why people go see a chiropractor. This is because chiropractic has proven itself to be effective in solving the problem at the source. Chiropractors are not interested in a temporary solution, they are interested in healing you. The science is clear - regular chiropractic care prevents and treats every kind of headache.
Chiropractors will never give you a pill to stop your headaches. Instead, they will rely on their expertise to adjust your spinal column. When your spine is aligned, your body is able to better facilitate healing. This occurs due to roadblocks being removed from your nervous system.
A misalignment of any degree is enough to throw your body out of balance, this leads to a breakdown in communication between your nervous system and your brain. The chronic headaches are simply your body letting you know it is under pressure and needs help. Luckily, chiropractors are able to solve the problem through safe, natural adjustments to your spine.
If you think that chiropractic care is a good treatment option for your chronic headaches, contact one of our Top Rated Chiropractors today. Relief from your pain is possible, so start your journey to relief today!