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Headache Care

Classification by Etiology and Physiology

Tuesday, Feb 24 2009


Classification by etiology and pathophysiology goes another step beyond symptom analysis in an attempt to understand the underlying cause of headache.  This is the approach that probably comes closest to the Cayce readings.  It tends to allow for the uniqueness of each individual (person-centered rather than disease-centered) and provides the possibility of cure by removal of cause (assuming that one is able to accurately ascertain the cause). 

Figure 1 and Box 1 provide examples of historical explanations for headache that integrate symptomatology and presentation with etiology and pathophysiology.  The following designations for headache come from various historical sources.

a.  Bilious Headache
Sometimes referred to as “sick” headaches, bilious headache is linked to problems with the gall bladder or liver (Felter & Loyd, 1900; Mausert, 1932; Potter, 1902; Barton & Yater, 1927; Hares, 1912).  Biliousness is “a symptom of a disordered condition of the liver causing constipation, headache, loss of appetite, and vomiting of bile” related to excess of bile that may be accompanied by fever. (Tabor’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 1973)

b.  Gastric or Dyspeptic Headache
Also sometimes called “sick" headache, gastric headache may overlap with biliousness, however the primary emphasis is on stomach dysfunction (Felter & Loyd, 1900; Mausert, 1932; Eberhart, 1911; Hazzard, 1905; Barber, 1898).

c.  Reproductive System Headache
This pattern of headache has many associated designations including pelvic, menstrual, ovarian, uterine, and womb (Felter & Loyd, 1900; Mausert, 1932; Eberhart, 1911; Snow, 1912; Barber, 1898; Hares, 1912) .  The common theme is reproduction system dysfunction (usually in women) that may be linked to hormonal imbalance or structural problems in the pelvic area.

d.  Nervous Headache
Nervous headache is also sometimes referred to as neurasthenic, neurotic, stress headache, hysterical headache.  Nervousness or general debilitation may be involved.  Psychosomatic etiology may also be a factor.  (Felter & Loyd, 1900; Mausert, 1932; Potter, 1902; Eberhart, 1911; Kellogg, 1895; Hazzard, 1905; Barber, 1898; Barton & Yater, 1927; Dercum, 1912)

e.  Congestive Headache
Congestive headache is probably a form of vasomotor disturbance wherein too much blood is allowed to accumulate in the head or face (Felter & Loyd, 1900; Potter, 1902; Eberhart, 1911; Tasker, 1916; Snow, 1912; Hazzard, 1905; Cherby, 1904).  This type of headache may also be referred to as headache due to hyperemia (Dercum, 1912).

f.  Constipation Headache
Constipation was cited in several historical medical texts as a cause of headache.  (Mausert, 1932; Eberhart, 1911, Dercum 1912; Barton & Yater, 1927) Also described as headache produced by “torpor of bowels” (Felter & Loyd, 1900).

Box 1: Types of Headache. SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES
Gastric or dyspeptic headaches are often occipital, sometimes frontal, and if accompanied by constipation, are diffuse and frontal.  Uterine and ovarian headaches are occipital and vertical.

Nervous headaches are seated on the top of the head.

If pulsating and throbbing, indicates vaso-motor disturbances; squeezing and pressing, nervous exhaustion or affection; sharp and boring, hysterical, neurotic, or epileptic; dull and heavy, toxic or dyspeptic; hot and burning, rheumatic or anemic.

Headache, not caused by fevers, the stomach, or the uterus, can be almost instantly cured by stretching the neck and a pressure on the nerves at the base of the occipital bone.  (Barber, Osteopathy Complete, 1898, p. 315-317)

Classification by Etiology and Physiology

g.  Anemic Headache
Anemia was cited as a cause of headache in several old texts.  (Mausert, 1932; Eberhart, 1911; Hazzard, 1905; Barber, 1898)

h.  Sinus Headache
Sinus headache associated with infection and nasal catarrh was mentioned in various texts. (Eberhart, 1911; American College of Mechano-Therapy, 1910)

i.  Nerve Reflex Headache
Nerve reflexes were cited in almost all of the old osteopathic manuals as a primary factor in headache (e.g., Barber, 1898; Hazzard, 1905; Goetz, 1909; Murray, 1925) Other systems of healing also recognized this etiological pattern (Potter, 1902; Eberhart, 1911; Felter & Loyd, 1900)

j.  Eyestrain Headache
Eyestrain was mentioned in some old texts as a cause of headache.  (Mausert, 1932; Hazzard, 1905)

k.  Uremic Headache
Uremic headache is associated with high levels of uremia in the blood resulting from kidney dysfunction.  (Dercum, 1912)

Figure 1: Areas Where Headache Occur.
Headaches.  Frontal or congestive headaches are relieved by using the vacuum tube with an intensity capable of producing a half or three-quarter inch spark and by passing the tube back and forth over the seat of pain.

Keep the tube in loose contact and prolong the treatment until relief takes place, which will be five, eight or occasionally ten minutes.

Inhibitive vibration in connection is advised, being fully as effective as high frequency.

Only temporary relief may be expected in toxic headaches or in reflex headaches from organic diseases unless the underlying cause is ascertained and treated.

Headaches at A or B are congestive of frontal and may be relieved by passing Electrode No. 1 back and forth over the seat of pain.  At A, they may come from errors in refraction, frontal sinus disease or nasal disease.

Stomach diseases also frequently cause pain at A.  Constipation A-B.  Decay of front teeth A- B.  Anemia, endometritis, bladder disease,

C. Middle ear disease, throat disease, eye disease, decayed teeth, D-E.  Womb disease, spinal irritation, nervousness, E.  Ovarian reflex pains usually at C and E.  Neurasthenic headaches involve the back of the neck. 

(Eberhart’s Manual of High Frequency Currents, Noble M. Eberhart, 1911, pages 221-223)

Carl Nelson, D.C., Marie Eschelman, Douglas Richards, Ph.D., David McMillin, M.A. and Eric Mein, M.D.
Meridian Institute

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