What Are Headaches?
Medically known as cephalalgia, a continuous pain in the head. This pain can be anywhere in the head or neck. As the brain has no pain receptors, headaches are not felt in the brain. The pain is caused by disturbances of the pain-sensitive structures around the brain.
The American Academy of Neurology says there are four types of headaches;
Vascular headaches – thought to be caused by blood vessel swelling and hyperemia (increase of blood flow). The most common type being a migraine.
Traction headaches – these are usually caused by pulling or stretching pain-sensitive parts of the head, as may occur as a result of changes to internal structures of the head due to organic diseases or physical stresses and strains.
Inflammatory headaches – these are symptoms of other disorders, including sinus infection, meningitis, or stroke.
Muscle contraction (tension) headaches – also known as myogenic & cervicogenic headaches, are caused by the tightening/tensing of facial and neck muscles, these account for nearly 90% of all headaches.
During a tension headache, there may be muscle tightness and tenderness in specific parts of the head, scalp and/or neck.
People who suffer from tension headaches say they feel like a tight band or vice on the head. The pain is usually dull, and covers most of the head.
It was thought that tension headaches were mainly caused by tension that builds up in the scalp and neck muscles as a result of stress, depression, anxiety, or a head injury. However, the exact cause or causes are unknown.
Experts today believe that a change in certain brain chemicals may be the main factors that contribute to tension headaches. These chemicals are the ones that help nerves communicate, such as serotonin, endorphins, and several others. It is not known why the levels of these chemicals change. It is suspected that the fluctuations activate pain pathways to the brain and probably undermine our ability to suppress pain.
Art: Victor Rodriguez’ Half Man