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Other Head Pain

There are a number of conditions which do not cause headaches despite the fact that the patient feels pain in his/her head. These conditions need appropriate treatment in their own right. The following are some such conditions:

Eye Problems

  • Refractive Errors
  • Chronic Glaucoma
  • Astigmatism
  • Strabismus


Notes: Patients often believe that eye problems are causing their headaches. This rarely turns out to be true. A new prescription for glasses may help with vision but usually does not alleviate headaches.

Ear Nose and Throat Conditions

  • Chronic Sinusitis (Acute Sinusitis is Rare)
  • Septal deviations
  • Hypertrophic Turbinates


Notes: Chronic sinusitis is not a common cause of headaches although sinus inflammation can be shown on tests. It has been demonstrated that powerful antibiotics, medicine to reduce inflammation and surgery (all courses of treatment for sinusitis) do not relieve headaches. 

Other Conditions

Arthritis and Degenerative Changes in the Neck    

Arthritis and degenerative changes in the neck are common. They may show up in our late twenties and progress as we grow older.

Often, the word "degenerative" conjures up a misleading picture of deterioration and decline. It is important to remember that for the most part, these changes are a natural part of aging.

To date, we have not seen convincing evidence special pillows, collars, neck traction or neck treatments are effective at relieving headaches.

Chiropractic neck manipulation is not widely believed by doctors to be a consistently effective treatment for headache and is associated with a small risk of serious complications. In particular, recent research has shown that the frequency of stroke following chiropractic manipulation of the neck is higher than previously documented.

As with any treatment, patients are advised to consider all the risks involved.

Nevertheless, there is a kind of headache known as cervicogenic headache, which is one-sided and in which the pain originates in the neck but is referred to the head.


Allergies     

Allergies are also largely a myth as a cause of headaches. 


Hypoglycemia      

Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is not a common cause of headache. 

The term "trigger factors" refer to those factors that might bring on or predispose to a headache. Some doctors believe that trigger factors for headaches can be identified in many patients. Our own experience in this area has been less productive. 

Certain substances in food however may make headaches worse. One of these is Monosodium glutamate or [MSG]. Over use of salt may also worsen headaches, although this is more controversial. The situation regarding the artificial sweetener aspartame is still unclear. 

Occasionally, it turns out that a medication is causing the headaches or making them worse. Medication induced headache has to be given special consideration in older people who have new onset headaches and are on several medicines. Certain blood pressure medications and medicines affecting the cardiovascular system need to be reviewed carefully.