Cluster headaches get their name from the cyclical nature of their appearance. Cluster headaches are one of the most painful headache types, often awakening a person in the middle of the night with intense pain. Cluster periods during which frequent attacks occur can last from weeks to months and then may subside into a period of remission.1
As with many other headache types, such as tension headaches or migraines, more women than men are affected. Like migraines, cluster headaches tend to run in families. The pain of a cluster headache is a severe sharp or burning pain, which is usually felt on one side of the face from the neck to the temple. Drooping of the eyelid, watering of the eye, and nasal congestion can also occur on the same side as the pain.
Scientists have not pinpointed an exact cause of cluster headaches but they seem to be connected with an episode of sudden release of histamine (a chemical released during an allergic response) or serotonin (a chemical that regulates nerve function).2
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Upper cervical chiropractor and headache specialist Dr. Jeremy Barone understands the connection between the alignment of the vertebrae of the neck and the development of headaches. Although the exact cause is not known, what is certain is that a misalignment of the uppermost bones in the neck can put stress and pressure on the brainstem, leading to nervous system dysfunction and improper blood flow to the head and neck. Since cluster headaches may be related to faulty chemical regulation in the brain, removing the obstruction and optimizing nervous system function can allow proper production and regulation of those chemicals. Natural relief of cluster headaches without the reliance on medications is possible to achieve through upper cervical care.
- Mayo Clinic. Cluster headache. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cluster-headache/basics/definition/con-20031706 (accessed 11 June 2015).
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. Cluster headache. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000786.htm (accessed 11 June 2015).
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