There are a lot of different kinds of headaches and what causes them can range from the mundane (too little sleep) to the dangerous (a brain tumor). Some of the most common types of head pain are tension-type and migraine. If commercials on television are any indication, sinus problems including headaches, also seem to be quite common.
A recent study (J Headache Pain 2008;Jan 25) tried to determine just how many common headaches are actually caused by a sinus problem, such as an infection (e.g. sinusitis). Sinus pain may also include other problems such as fever, cough, nasal discharge and postnasal discharge. The researchers looked at 310 children who had long term and recurring headaches and the results were quite interesting. Only 1% of patients had a sinus problem that was producing the headache. About 40% of the patients with migraine and 60% of the patients with tension-type headache were misdiagnosed with a “sinus headache.” The researchers concluded that children with chronic and recurrent headaches are frequently misdiagnosed with sinus headaches and may receive unnecessary sinusitis treatment.
As with any health condition it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis before proceeding with treatment. It’s also important to treat the cause of a problem rather than just its effects. Chiropractors look to the spine as often contributing to headache symptoms. It’s not always the case, but frequently this is an overlooked area. Some scientific evidence suggests that when the spine is treated, patients with migraine and tension type headaches, in particular, can recover.