Headaches, Migraines, Cluster Headaches, Tension & Sinus Headaches in Ottawa ON

try chiropractic care for headache and migraine relief

A headache, medically known as cephalalgia, is a continuous pain in the head. The pain can be anywhere in the head (face, temples, ears, eyes, forehead, jaw, skull) or in the 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.

Headaches in Ottawa ON can be an early sign of more serious problem that should be ruled out. For example, a sudden "Thunderclap" headache may be the only symptom of a life-threatening subarachnoid hemorrhage (a form of stroke in which blood accumulates around the brain, often from a ruptured brain aneurysm).

Some types of headaches signal more serious disorders and call for prompt medical care. These include:

  • Sudden, severe headache (e.g. Thunderclap headache)
  • Sudden headache associated with a stiff neck (associated with meningitis)
  • Headaches associated with fever, convulsions, or accompanied by confusion or loss of consciousness
  • Headaches following a blow to the head, or associated with pain in the eye or ear (including
  • Persistent headache in someone previously headache free
  • Recurring headache in children

There are four types of headaches, according to the Canadian Academy of Neurology:

  • Vascular
  • Tension
  • Traction, and
  • Inflammatory

Headaches may be caused by a concussion.


Vascular headaches in Ottawa ON

These are thought to be caused by blood vessel swelling or changes in blood flow (often an increase in blood flow). The most common type being Migraine headaches. Migraine sufferers typically have severe pain on one or both sides of the head, a visual disturbance, and/or upset stomach. Another common form of vascular headache include Cluster headaches and Toxic headaches.

  • Migraines headaches: 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. Women are much more likely to get migraines than men. A migraine headache causes the sympathetic nervous system to respond with feelings of nausea,diarrhea, and vomiting. This response also delays the emptying of the stomach into the small intestine (affecting food absorption), decreases blood circulation (leading to cold hands and feet), and increased sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are also associated with "triggers" like caffeine, MSG, alcohol (especially wine), food additives and food allergies, chemical sensitivities, hormone changes and stress (stress can be lack of sleep, weather changes, for example)
  • Cluster headaches: known for being intense, excruciatingly painful headaches with attacks that occur cyclically, hence the name. A bout of regular attacks (cluster periods) can last from a few days, weeks, to even months. This is followed by remission periods during which no headaches are felt. Cluster headaches are not very common (affect about 1/1,000 people). They affect men more often than women (about 80% of sufferers are men, most of them smokers). Smoking is associated with cluster headaches. Symptoms come on rapidly, generally without any warning, and they may include Intense pain, some describe it as excruciating. The pain is continuous, rather than throbbing. The pain often starts around the eye, and may then radiate to other parts of the head, including the face, and down to the neck and even the shoulders. Many patients feel pain in a temple or cheek.
  • Toxic Headaches: occur during fevers from disease or infection.

Tension (Muscle contraction) headaches

These are caused by the tightening/tensing of facial and neck muscles, these account for most common headaches. The pain is often described as a tight band around the head or a feeling that the head and neck are in a cast. "It feels like somebody is tightening a giant vise around my head," said our patient. Pain is often steady, and usually felt on both sides of the head. Chronic muscle-contraction headaches can cause sore scalp and face—even combing one's hair can be painful.

Tension headaches can be caused by tight muscles, misalignment of neck vertebra, pinched nerves in the neck, as well as injury to the head, neck, shoulder or upper back. Many chiropractors know that a headache is the body's warning alarm that pain may also be attributed to muscle tension and irritation of the nerves and blood vessels in the neck. The seven cervical vertebrae (spinal bones) can become misaligned from excessive physical and emotional stress. This misalignment can irritate the nerve roots in the neck and may even cause minor constriction in some vessels which supply blood and minor constriction in some vessels which supply blood to the brain. When this happens, a headache can strike. once, twice, and again and again. If not cared for, more serious symptoms may develop. Often a tension headache is one of the first signs of a neck problem.

Many people who sit at a desk on the computer most of their day can have an issue with the forward head position adding weight and pressure to the joints, nerves and muscles of the upper and lower neck. This repetitive posture can lead to headaches as well as neck problems, both of which respond very well to chiropractic care.

Traction headaches

These are usually caused by pulling or stretching pain-sensitive parts of the head, as may occur during eyestrain and eye muscles are tensed. Traction headache is caused by organic diseases involving structures in the head.

Inflammatory headaches

These headaches are symptoms of other disorders, including a sinus infection,meningitis, or stroke. Headache with fever may be caused by meningitis, particularly if there is an inability to flex the neck forward due to stiffness. Confusion may be indicative of encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, usually due to particular viruses. The Canadian Academy of Neurology adds that headaches may be warning signals of more serious disorders, especially those caused by inflammation.

How we can help

  • Acupuncture: Researchers at the Technical University of Munich in Germany carried out two systematic reviews on acupuncture therapy. They found that acupuncture can be effective for patients with tension headaches or migraines. Senior investigator, Klaus Linde said "In Germany, acupuncture is frequently used for headache.
  • Chiropractic: Research has shown that the most common types of headaches respond well to chiropractic care, especially migraines and tension headaches. The vast majority of even the most severe headaches are relieved when spinal subluxations (misaligned spinal bones) and jaw problems are corrected. The effects that these types of problems have on the nerves, often results in pain in the head. Chiropractic doctors locate areas of the spine that aren't moving properly. They notice spinal curves. They look at your posture and your ability to turn and bend. The chiropractor is also trained to recognize the signs of rare problems that may require immediate medical attention.
  • Massage works out the tight muscles of the scalp, face, neck and shoulders and feels great. A side benefit of reducing muscle tension is often alleviating headaches. We offer a couple's massage class that teaches you at-home massage techniques.

Headaches have many factors and underlying causes. Often, there is more than one issue causing chronic headaches, like hormone imbalances, toxicity, stress, joint and muscle issues, posture, micro-circulation issues, allergies and more. We can provide a thorough assessment to find out what your factors are.

Need more information?

Many symptoms can be helped with preventative care like acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, physio and laser therapy. We strongly recommend anyone experiencing the symptoms discussed on this page, see one of our health professionals soon.

4:00pm - 6:00pm

11:00am - 2:00pm
3:30pm - 6:00pm

11:00am - 2:00pm
3:30pm - 6:00pm

11:00am - 2:00pm


12:00pm - 3:00pm


Advanced Wellness Centre

200 Metcalfe St Main Floor
Ottawa, ON K2P 1P7

(613) 237-5252


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