Headaches and Threshold Theory

women with headache

Headaches are one of the most frustrating conditions. You can go days or weeks without a headache, then the next month you have daily debilitating headaches. Some days it is a mild, dull ache that begins late in the afternoon and disappears by dinner. The next day it is severe and lasts several hours.

According to a quick Internet search, everything causes or contributes to headaches. However every person's headaches are not triggered by the same factors. Many people have a few core contributing factors, and the combination of factors determines their headaches.

We commonly describe headaches as on a threshold system. When you go above threshold you develop a headache, and when you drop below threshold the headache disappears. All of your headache factors are added up to determine your score.

For example, lets say your threshold is 75 points, which produces a headache. At 80 points the headache is moderate and 90 it is severe. At 73 points you might feel a little off but feel normal at 70. When your score adds up to 76 you feel a little headache, but some rest drops you to 72, below threshold and the headache disappears. If your score jumps to an 85 you have a severe headache and a little rest only brings you down to an 81, which is still a severe headache.

threshold chart

Going above threshold causes headaches, and going further past the threshold line increases the severity of headaches. However, did you notice that a 70 feels the same as 50? Right now are you at a 67 or 33?

This is why activities and factors that influence headaches can be confusing, and what causes a headache today may not tomorrow. If your score is a 72, an increase of six points produces a headache. When your score is a 33, a six point increase does not cause any noticeable change.

So what is contributing to your score? In basic terms, your hormones, metabolism, diet, environmental and physical conditions, muscles, joints, and stress levels are all contributing to your point score. And they fluctuate daily.

You may have noticed that some days you can work at the computer for seven hours without a problem, then the next day three hours triggers a headache. On the second day your score was closer to threshold and the computer work increased your muscle and joint points above threshold.

Treatment goals are to move you lower and further away from threshold, so you can have a few bad days and not reach 75. The lower your starting score, the less chance of developing headaches. While not all of your headache factors can be influenced, many can.

Our chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage therapy treatment mainly focuses on your muscle and joint points, which can be easily influenced. By improving muscle flexibility, strength, endurance, and inflammation, we are lowering your muscle and joint pain that contributes to headaches

head and neck adjustment

Everybody has varying numbers of contributing factors, but people who have more muscle, joint, and stress points respond better to our treatments. The muscle and joint factors are also the easiest to improve and influence. It is difficult to change your metabolic and hormone levels, but many people have poor posture habits and chronic muscle injuries that contribute to their headaches.

Treatment is about reducing your headache point totals, getting and keeping you further from headache threshold.

For more information on headache treatment and threshold, go to our:

Graston Technique
Massage Therapy
Scar Tissue
Ice Page