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Get a handle on Headaches

Headache is a common problem in healthcare and listed in the top 14 causes of disability according to recent studies published in The Lancet. Tension headache and Migraine are two of the most common type of headache. While obtaining a specific diagnosis is important, most patients are probably more interested in how they can manage the condition.

A good first step is to complete a headache diary. One is here for downloading:

Download PDF • 497KB


The headache diary may be useful for noting the frequency and intensity over time. Unfortunately, we can lose track of how often we have these symptoms. But keeping track of the specific events may be enlightening and empowering.

These specific events and their symptoms can then help your healthcare provider make an informed diagnosis. The diagnosis is helpful for patients because it helps determine types of treatment, as well as the prognosis. Healthcare practitioners may use another instrument to help with diagnosis. This is the Headache Disability Index:

Download PDF • 16KB

Many patients want to know if this is a serious condition, or if it is benign. Other important considerations are if the symptoms are likely to be short lasting, or if the symptoms are chronic, episodic in nature.

Many treatment approaches are multifactorial. It may involve a number of factors, and some patients respond to soft tissue treatments of the spine and neck, along with chiropractic adjustments, and strengthening exercises for the neck, or relaxation techniques for the shoulders and jaw. Other management strategies include co-management with a GP for medication options, and changing lifestyle behaviours. And other management strategies include mitigating the impact of the headache, such as having a quiet, low light room to relax in when symptoms can be overwhelming.

The above headache diary can be put to good use right away. It can help patients determine if lifestyle choices are playing a role in their condition. It can also help with determining the likely course of the condition. Lastly, many patients with headache will see multiple practitioners. Having a headache diary can help both patients and practitioners come to a better decision on how one can best manage the condition in a much more efficient manner.

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