What is a headache?
To simplify, a headache is pain in the head or face, and sometimes also includes pain in the upper to mid neck.
The pain sensitive structures in the head and face include the skin, bone and structures in the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Also, the large blood vessels of the head are incredibly sensitive and these are the principal structures causing pain in vascular headaches, such as migraines.
The jaw hinge (called the temporomandibular joint) and the teeth can also generate headache.
The brain itself is not pain sensitive and is not a source of head pain.
What types of headaches are there?
We can group headaches into 2 categories, Primary or Secondary.
Below is only a few of many types of headaches that can arise:
•A primary headache is one that is not caused by another condition, it is the condition itself. Eg Tension or migraine.
•Secondary headaches are a symptom due to another factor. Eg Head injury of substance withdrawal.
Examples of Primary Headaches
Examples of Secondary Headaches:
● Head Injury
● Caffeine Withdrawal
● Medication overuse
● Lesions of Cranial Nerves
● Cranial of Cervical Vascular Disorder
Here are a few things to be aware of and to consult your GP on if you are experiencing headaches associated with:
● Stiff neck or rash
● Fever, seizures or unconsciousness
● Numbness or weakness
● Disturbed vision, balance or speech
● After a significant blow to the head
● Recurring headaches in children
● Headaches that come on very sudden and are extremely painful
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please consult your GP!
For those of you who are interested, The International classification of headaches disorders is a great website tool if you did want to look into more detail around this topic- https://www.ichd-3.org/