Primary vs. Secondary Headaches

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June 30, 2020

Primary headaches are those that do not have a known cause, which we refer to as idiopathic.  These are the tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches and the occipital neuralgias of the world.  Secondary headaches are when there are more severe neurological implications and can be caused by tumor, aneurysm, CSF blockage, infection, inflammatory conditions, Low CSF and meningitis amongst others.  These are more rare, but at the same time they are more serious and must be treated, or managed appropriately.  

Secondary Headache Symptoms

  • Neurological symptoms during or in between headaches
  • Abnormal neurological examination
  • New or unsual type of headache
  • Worst headache you have ever experienced
  • Sudden
  • Fever or recent experience
  • Stiff neck
  • Swelling of the optic nerve
  • Headache is unresponsive to other types of treatments- medications, chiropractic, PT, et cetera.  

Treatment for Primary Headaches

Chiropractic Neurology is usually the most appropriate treatment for these conditions as they can appropriately evaluate all the systems that may be involved, determining the best course of treatment, whether by a Chiropractic Neurologist, or referral to another specialist.  Medications can help to manage these conditions. Physical therapy, acupuncture, cranio-sacral technique, massage therapy and other types of care are often very helpful in these conditions. 

Treament for Secondary Headaches

Blood tests, brain scans and lumbar punctures will often determine the next course of your treatment, which will be referral to a specialist in the area of your condition.