Almost everyone gets a headache from time to time. Headaches are the most common form of pain, and is a major reason people miss work or school and visit a doctor. In our Santa Monica clinic, we see many patients in need of headache relief. Let’s begin by learning more about the types of headaches, and then how we treat them in a holistic and natural way.

Tension Headache

The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches are due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. They are often related to stress, depression/anxiety or holding your head and neck in an abnormal position. It tends to be on both sides of your head. It often starts at the back of the head and spreads forward. The pain may feel dull or squeezing, like a tight band or vice. Your shoulders, neck, or jaw may feel tight or sore.

You are more likely to get tension headaches if you work too much with computer, don’t get enough sleep, miss meals, or use alcohol.

Migraine Headache

A migraine headache involves severe pain. It usually occurs with other symptoms, such as vision changes, sensitivity to sound or light, or nausea.

  • The pain may be throbbing, pounding, or pulsating.
  • It tends to begin on one side of your head.
  • It may spread to both sides.
  • You may have an aura.
  • This is a group of warning symptoms that start before your headache.
  • The pain usually gets worse as you try to move around.
  • Migraines may be triggered by foods such as chocolate, certain cheeses, or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Caffeine withdrawal, lack of sleep, and alcohol may also be triggers.

Other Types of Headaches

Other common types of headaches include cluster headaches (a sharp, very painful headache that occurs up to several times a day for months. It then goes away for a similar period of time. The headache usually lasts less than an hour. It tends to occur at the same times every day) and sinus headaches (due to swelling in the sinus passages behind the cheeks, nose, and eyes. The pain is worse when you bend forward and when you first wake up in the morning).

Not all headaches require a doctor’s attention. But sometimes headaches warn of a more serious disorder. Let your health care provider know if you have sudden, severe headaches. Get medical help right away if you have a headache after a blow to your head, or if you have a headache along with a stiff neck, fever, confusion, loss of consciousness, or pain in the eye or ear.

How to Treat a Headache Naturally?

It depends on what type of headache, its location, cause and so on – this is why you need to have a consultation and physical exam to find out the best treatment option for you and to obtain the best treatment plan. For example, even though you feel the pain on the forehead or temples, it may be caused by tension of your neck or jaw etc.

For most types of headache, acupuncture alone works really great and patients feel immediate pain relief, however if it is migraine/ cluster migraine, we need to look more closely to discover the root problems such as hormone imbalance, menstruation, food allergy, allergy sinusitis and so on. In this case, you may need to take the herbal remedy as well as acupuncture. Make an appointment today in our Santa Monica – Los Angeles clinic for an evaluation and treatment plan by Dr. Hoon Kim.