“A Headache is defined as a pain in the head or upper neck. It is one of the most common locations of pain in the body and has many causes. Headaches have numerous causes, and in 2007 the International Headache Society agreed upon an updated classification system for headache.”(1) Because so many people suffer from headaches and because treatment sometimes is difficult, it is hoped that the new classification system will allow health care practitioners come to a specific diagnosis as to the type of headache and to provide better and more effective treatment. “There are three major categories of headaches:
1. Tension headache (is the most common type of primary headache. The pain can radiate from the lower back of the head, the neck, eyes, or other muscle groups in the body. Tension-type headaches account for nearly 90% of all headaches. Approximately 3% of the population has chronic tension-type headaches.[ 2. Migraine headache (is a severe, painful headache that is often preceded or accompanied by sensory warning signs such as flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in the arms and legs, nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. The excruciating pain that migraines bring can last for hours or even days.) 3. Cluster headache (is a condition that involves, as its most prominent feature, an immense degree of pain that is almost always on only one side of the head. the pain resulting from cluster headaches as the most intense pain a human can endure)” (1)
The exact etiology or causes of tension headache are unknown. Experts used to think that the pain of tension headache stemmed from muscle contraction in the face, neck and scalp, perhaps as a result of heightened emotions, tension or stress. But research suggests that there doesn't appear to be a significant increase in muscle tension in people diagnosed with tension headache. The most common theories support interference or "mixed signals" involving nerve pathways to the brain, which is demonstrated by a heightened sensitivity to pain in people who have tension headaches. Increased muscle tenderness, a common symptom of tension headache, may be the result of overactive pain receptors.
The etiology of migraine headaches is not clear. It was once thought that migraines began due to changes in the blood vessels, but now scientists believe that the changes occur in the brain first. Some believe that migraines are an allergic reaction as there are specific triggers for migraine headaches that seem to be a common denominator. Triggers for migraines include smoking, exposure to smoke, alcohol, caffeine, skipping meals, allergic reactions, bright lights, perfumes and other odors, bleach, changes in sleep patterns, physical stress, emotional stress, birth control pills, menstrual cycle fluctuations, food reactions such as chocolate, peanut butter, avocado, nuts, onions, bananas, citrus, dairy products, and fermented or pickled foods, or foods containing tyramine such as red wine, chicken livers, figs, smoked fish, aged cheese, and some beans. Cluster headaches:
As with many other headache syndromes, theories abound, many of which center on your autonomic or "automatic" nervous system or your brain's hypothalamus. These systems play a role in rhythmic or cyclical functions in your body. The involvement of either system in the syndrome would account for the periodic nature of the headache. Many experts believe that cluster headache and migraine headache share a common cause that begins in the nerve that carries sensation from your head to your brain (trigeminal nerve) and ends with the blood vessels that surround your brain. Others believe that the pain arises in the deep vascular channels in your head (for example, the cavernous sinus) and does not involve the trigeminal system.
The pathophysiology of migraine, cluster, and tension-type...