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Headache red flags: 8 signs your head pain could point to other problems

2 minutes, 5 seconds

Most people have dealt with a headache at some point in their lives. Many even struggle with chronic headaches. According to a recent article published in BioMed Central, 52% of the global population are affected by a headache disorder each year, and 14% are affected by migraines.

However, headaches can point to other problems in some cases. They may point to signs of a neurological disorder, vascular issues and other health conditions.

In this article, we'll discuss eight headache red flags to keep an eye out for. We'll also share some tips on how to find treatment for chronic headaches if they're not a symptom of a more dire health condition.

Watch out for these headache red flags

Sometimes, headaches are purely a symptom of a headache disorder. In other cases, they may require a visit to the emergency room.

The medical community uses the acronym SNOOP4 to assess whether a headache needs immediate attention. The acronym breaks down like this:

  • Systemic signs ” Fevers, confusion, and other symptoms of a systemic infection.
  • Neurological symptoms ” Numbness in the limbs or changes in vision.
  • Onset is sudden ” High-intensity headaches that come on without warning.
  • Older age at onset ” Headaches that appear in people over 50 who've not experienced them before.
  • Progression ” Headaches that rapidly worsen.  
  • Papilledema ” Swelling of the optic nerve that puts pressure on the brain.
  • Positional or Precipitated by Valsalva” Headaches that increase with position changes (standing up or lying down) or are triggered by the Valsalva maneuver.
  • Pregnancy ” Headaches in pregnant women who've not experienced them before.

What if I have chronic head pain but don't show any headache red flags?

Headaches can occur for many reasons but aren't necessarily something to worry about. Of course, you want to get rid of them, though.

If you've talked to a doctor about your headaches and they don't see any red flags, consider trying physical therapy. Your physical therapist will identify any problems in your posture or movement habits that could be causing your splitting headaches, and they'll help you correct those problems.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for headaches

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we're proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that's close to you and that can help you address headaches.

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.

Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.

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