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What is headache?

Headaches (migraines) are one of the most common disorders of the nervous system. They are primary painful disorders as migraine or, tension headaches and cluster headaches. It can also be caused by many other conditions, such as excessive consumption of analgesics.

It is estimated that the worldwide prevalence of headache (at least once in the last year) in adults is 47 per cent. Between half and three-quarters of adults aged from 18 to 65 years have suffered a headache in the last year, and more than 10 per cent of this group has suffered migraine. The headache that occurs each 15 days or each month affects from 1.7 per cent to 4 per cent of the adult population in the world. Despite regional variations, headaches are a global problem that affects people of all ages, races, income levels and geographic areas.
Headache is not only painful but also debilitating. In the Study of Global Burden of Disease, updated in 2004, migraine represented 1.3 per cent of years lost due to disability.

Headaches also impose personal burden in the form of intense suffering, impairment of quality of life and economic costs. Frequent headaches and constant fear about the next episode damage family life, social relationships and work. A prolonged effort to deal with a chronic headache may also predispose to the occurrence of other diseases; for example, depression, which is three times more common in people suffering from migraine or severe headaches than in healthy.


Migraine is within what are called central sensitization syndromes. Central sensitization is a process that affects the central nervous system, reducing the pain threshold and leading to its distorted perception. People who suffer this syndrome are much more sensitive to stimuli that are normally not so painful, not having this pain an adaptive and “notice” purpose.

Types and symptoms

Migraine, tension headache and the caused by an excessive consumption of analgesics (rebound headache) are important to public health since they cause severe disability and morbidity in the population.

Migraine (headache)

Es una cefalea primaria.
Suele aparecer en la pubertad y afecta principalmente al grupo entre los 35 y los 45 años de edad.
Está causada por la activación de un mecanismo encefálico que conduce a la liberación de sustancias inflamatorias y causantes de dolor alrededor de los nervios y vasos sanguíneos de la cabeza.
La migraña es recurrente, a menudo dura toda la vida y se caracteriza por presentarse episódicamente

It is a primary headache. It usually occurs in puberty and mostly affects the group between 35 and 45 years old.
It is caused by the activation of a mechanism that leads to release of inflammatory and pain-causing substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head.
Migraine is a recurring headache, often lasts lifelong and is characterized by occur episodically.

These episodes are characterized by:

– Moderate and severe headache.
– Nausea (the most characteristic symptom).
– Pain on one side of the head, sometimes pulsatile.
– Worsens with ordinary physical activity.
– It can last from a few hours to 2 or 3 days.
– Episodes occur with a frequency that varies between one year and one week.
– In children, the episodes usually last less and abdominal symptoms are more prominent.

Tension Type Headache

It is the most common primary headache.
Episodic Tension Type Headache (TTH) is observed in more than 70 per cent of certain population groups.
It often begins in adolescence and affects more women than men in a ratio of 3:2.
It may be related to stress or musculoskeletal problems of the neck.
When it is episodic, the episodes usually last a few hours, but may persist for several days.
Chronic tension headaches may be constant and much more disabling than episodic.
The patient describes this headache as a kind of pressure or tightness band around the head, which sometimes radiates to the neck or from this.

Cluster Headache

It is a primary headache.
It is relatively rare; It is suffered by less than 1 in 1,000 adults; It is more common in men than in women, with a ratio of 6: 1.
It usually occurs from mid-twenties.
It is characterized by recurrent and frequent, brief but extremely painful episodes of headache and pain around one eye. It provokes tears and reddening; accompanied by nasal discharge or blockage of the nostril on the affected side, and eyelid may be down.
It can be episodic or chronic.

Headache due to overuse of analgesics (rebound headache)

It is caused by chronic and excessive consumption of drugs to combat headaches.
It is the most common form of secondary headache.
It can affect up to 5 per cent of certain population groups, more women than men.
It is an oppressive and persistent headache which usually is worsen on waking.


A large number of people who suffer migraines are not diagnosed or treated. To treat headaches it is important that health professionals are well trained, the diagnosis of the disorder is accurate and appropriate treatment is provided.

It is very common that people do not consider headaches as a serious disease since they usually occurs episodically, are not fatal and do not spread. It is estimated that 50 per cent of people with headache are treat by themselves.

In many cases, the authorities intended to limit the costs of health care and do not recognize that headaches impose a considerable economic burden on the state – Direct costs of treatment of headaches are minimal when compared to indirect costs (for example, days off work).

There are different types of treatment, with or without medicaments

No medications: To identify and avoid triggers of migraine is an example of treatment without medication, writing a migraine diary to track your symptoms and identify your triggers (food, cold, heat, light, sleep, etc.), technical relaxation, acupuncture, neurofeedback and biofeedback.

With medication: analgesics, anticonvulsants and prophylactic products.

Data and numbers

Headaches are one of the most common disorders of the nervous system.
Overall, it is estimated that 47 per cent of adults have experienced at least one headache in the past year.
The headaches are accompanied by personal and social problems such as pain, disability, impaired quality of life and economic losses.
Worldwide, only a minority of people suffering headaches receive a proper diagnosis made by a health professional.
Globally, headaches have been underestimated, poorly known and do not receive adequate treatment.

Neurofeedback application in headaches cases

Neurofeedback is a neuropsychological technique that allows self-regulation of the central nervous system. Its application will reduce and / or disappear migraine symptoms, decrease anticipatory fear and stabilize the physiological activity improving sensitivity and increasing of pain threshold.

Neurofeedback different investigations in cases of headaches show the high degree of effectiveness of this therapy for treatment.

According to the study carried out by Dr. Jonathan E. Walker in Dallas, and published in 2011 in which participated 71 patients who often suffered migraines, they were obtained the next data:

Neurofeedback group (46 patients) Pharmacological group (25 patients)
No migraines 54 per cent 4 per cent
Decreasing of migraines >50 per cent 39 per cent 8 per cent
Decreasing of migraines <50 per cent 4 per cent 20 per cent
No changes 1 patient 68 per cent


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