Cluster Headaches

Why this resource is helpful:

Although not a lot is understood about Cluster Headaches in research, our experience at Portland Chiropractic Neurology has been successful in multiple cases. If you experience Cluster Headaches, it can be extremely debilitating, please call us to arrange an evaluation to see if we can help.

What is a Cluster Headache?
Cluster headaches are rare when compared to other types of headaches. The pain they produce is severe and tends to recur in the same way each time. They occur in groups, or clusters, and each attack lasts about 1 to 3 hours on average. The frequency of occurrence may range from every other day to multiple times a day. Cluster periods are followed by remissions that may last months or years. Males are affected by cluster headaches more than females and they typically start around age 30. Researchers do not know exactly what causes cluster headaches. They seem to be related to the sudden release of histamine or serotonin in the body (1)

You get a cluster headache when a specific nerve pathway in the base of your brain is activated. That signal seems to come from a deeper part of the brain called the hypothalamus where the "internal biological clock" that controls your sleep and wake cycles lives.


The nerve that's affected, the trigeminal nerve, is responsible for sensations such as heat or pain in your face. It's near your eye, and it branches up to your forehead, across your cheek, down your jaw line, and above your ear on the same side, too. (2)

An underlying brain condition, such as a tumor or aneurysm, won't cause these headaches.

These are common symptoms of a cluster headache (1):
Sudden onset of pain, generally around or behind the eye
Pain builds to a peak in about 10 to 15 minutes
Restlessness or agitation
Red or watering eyes
Nasal congestion
Sweating on the forehead
Eyelid drooping or swelling
The following may trigger cluster headaches (1):
Alcohol use or smoking cigarettes
Change to a high altitude
Bright light
Exercise or exertion
Heat, either weather or a bath
Foods that contain nitrates, such as bacon or lunch meat
Cocaine use
Cluster Headache Diagnosis
How can we diagnose what's causing your Cluster Headache? By evaluating the brain and nervous system in its entirety, but specifically along the autonomic and trigeminovascular pathway, we can localize regions that are dysfunctional and misrepresenting sensory information to the brain. Autonomic dysregulation is a hallmark of Autonomic Cephalgias and we perform careful evaluation of this potential involvement. Oxygenation is an important aspect of Cluster Headache and is also evaluated very carefully. We're essentailly looking at your brain from an integration perspective, ensuring all regions are sending appropriate afferent information to the brain, including the vestibular system, proprioceptive system, visuomotor system, autonomic system, oxygenation system. Our core model of care is multi-modal, ensuring that all potential regions that may contribute to Cluster Headache are properly assessed and treated to allow proper gating and function to occur along the Trigeminovascular pathway. In order to do this, we must reset the Central Integrated State of the dysfunction neuronal regions of the brain to reduce their resting membrane potential to an appropriate level that is healhy and approximately -65 mV, reducing hyperexcitablity. We attempt to achieve this through a specialized program that combines Neurology, Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Vestibular Rehabilitation, Occupational Therapy and Oxygen.

Find treatment options for migraine headaches, back pain, movement disorders in Portland, Maine.
Quoted From: https://www.portchiro.com/our-care/condition/cluster-headaches/57/

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