Headache sufferers respond well to
osteopathic techniques that are designed
to loosen muscle and ease tension over
the joints, vessels and nerves of your
neck and head.
Before treatment can be effective a cause needs to be determined. There are many
types of headaches and migraines and they all have slightly different triggers and presentations. Cervicogenic and tension-type headaches are most common and this is typically related to stress and poor posture. Other causes include eyestrain, dehydration and pathological processes.
Osteopathic management involves a combination of effective treatment, diet modifications, exercise and postural and movement correction. Techniques such as manipulation and stretching often provide instant relief.
Individual management programs involving a combination of osteopathic treatment, postural correction, exercise advice and stretching is suffice for most of us. More complex cases require more consideration but osteopaths at East St Kilda Sports & Spinal Clinic are well equipped to deal with these.
Headaches have many causes including tightness in the neck, stress, vascular changes in the head (migraines), dehydration, certain foodstuffs and environmental triggers.
Migraines or vascular headaches are caused by an abnormal increase in blood flow through the blood vessels in the head; hence their throbbing nature. They often begin with an ‘aura’ which may involve flashing lights or visual disturbances. The headache soon follows and these are typically behind one eye and can induce photophobia (sensitivity to light) and nausea. Migraines can last between 3 and 72 hours.
Tension headaches present as a band of tightness surrounding the entire head. They are usually caused by stress and it is common to have tenderness of the scalp musculature.
Cervicogenic headaches are of cervical spine origin (e.g. caused by dysfunction in the neck). They typically begin at the base of the skull and radiate to the top of the head. It is common to have neck pain on the same side that you feel the headache and osteopathic treatment to the neck region normally alleviates symptoms.
Cluster headaches are sometimes called ‘clockwork headaches’ because they tend to present at the same time of day and on a regular basis. These headaches can be extremely painful.
What can I do about my headaches?
Your osteopath can be extremely helpful in the treatment of many types of headaches. Self-management techniques involve a proper diet, adequate hydration, stress reduction and regular exercise.
Migraines typically respond well to drugs that alter the state of the blood vessels such as caffeine and ergotamine (both constrict blood vessels). Tension headaches can be helped by self-massage of the muscles at the base of the neck and those covering the temporal bones. Relaxation techniques are also effective. Cervicogenic and cluster headaches can be helped with stretching of the neck muscles.
Speak to your osteopath about how to avoid the triggers of your headaches (e.g. stress, foodstuffs) and how to better manage symptoms when they do persist.