The Hurt Behind Your Headaches

Physical Pain Explained

When you have a headache, several areas of your head can hurt with the pain ranging in intensity, frequency, and duration. For example, the pain can progress from mild to severe and then back again before finally going away with natural and medical therapies after a few hours or days. Of course, you should always see a doctor at a Headache Clinic near you, to learn more about appropriate treatments.

What hurts exactly during a headache attack? Your scalp as well as your face, mouth and throat can hurt because of the abundance of pain-sensitive nerves in these areas. Your muscles in the head and your blood vessels along the surface and base of your brain will also hurt because these areas have delicate nerve fibers, which are sensitive to pain.

Although it may feel like it, the bones in your skull and the tissues in your brain are never actually in pain during a headache. These areas do not have pain-sensitive nerve fibers, thus, the absence of pain.

Known as nociceptors, these pain-sensitive nerves have ends that can be stimulated by a wide variety of headache triggers. Stress, muscle tension, food and beverages, lights and noise, and dilated blood vessels are just a few of these triggers.

When stimulated, these nociceptors send a specific message to the brain’s nerve cells signaling that certain parts of the body are in pain. The message depends on the nociceptors’ location – thus, when you realize that your head hurts, you are responding to nociceptors in your head being stimulated.

Pain-related information is transmitted to the brain via a number of chemicals. A few of these chemicals are, in fact, natural painkillers like endorphins (i.e., the body’s natural morphine).

Note: A theory about severe headaches suggests that people who suffer from them have lower levels of endorphins than those who are generally pain-free.

Mental Pain Explained

The frequency, intensity, and duration of headaches can vary widely between individuals but one thing binds patients – headaches can and will affect mental function and emotional status before, during and after the attacks.

Think of it: Even the simple anticipation of a migraine attack can affect your mood so much so that even without the pain, you can become a pain in the neck for others. During the attack itself, you will be unable to think clearly and move normally because of your desire to just curl up and sleep through the pain. After the attack, you will be so drained of energy that thinking clearly and moving normally are not on your immediate agenda.

Even mild headaches can affect your mental and emotional functions because the pain becomes foremost in your mind. It’s no wonder then that headaches can make your body and mind ache for pain relief!

But it is not just physical and mental pain that you will want relief from during a headache attack. The financial pain can be costly particularly in terms of medications, lost productivity at work, and lost profits in business, among others.

About Healthpointe:

Healthpointe is a leading multidisciplinary healthcare organization offering a full range of medical services in practice locations throughout Southern California (Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County). Healthpointe has locations situated in over 10 cities in Southern California including La Mirada by Whittier, La Habra, Norwalk, Cerritos, Buena Park, and Santa Fe Springs. As a highly regarded musculoskeletal group, we have a personal investment in the highest level of service, and we are proud of our record of excellence over the last four decades with private patients, injured workers, urgent care, personal injuries, and professional and non-professional athletes. Leading our organization is a dynamic team of healthcare professionals who continually strive to be at the forefront of medical innovation and healthcare service delivery. For more information, a complete list of services, and Healthpointe locations, visit

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