We’ve had a quite a few people say to us recently that they didn’t know that osteopathy was used to treat migraines and headaches. Well it can be a very effective treatment method, although this will largely depend on what is causing the headache in the first place.
Headaches will generally fall into one of two categories;
1. Tension (Cervicogenic) Headache
According to the NHS, this is the most common type of headache and tends to mainly affect teenagers and adults. This type of headache is primarily linked to a tightening and contraction of the head and neck muscles, which can irritate the blood vessels in or around the head. It can also irritate the meninges, which are three layers of protective tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord. Tension headaches usually tend to happen in isolated incidents, but some people can suffer for prolonged periods of time.
- Bad Posture
- Eye Strain
- Alcohol & Tobacco use
- Hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle
2. Migraine headache
A migraine is a severe and painful headache and is more complex than a tension headache. Migraines can often be preceded by and/or accompanied by several sensory warning signs such as disturbed vision, blind spots, increased sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and/or vomiting and a tingling sensation in the arms and legs. It is usually experienced as a throbbing pain on one side of the head.
Migraine symptoms will vary from person to person. For instance, migraines are known to affect women more than men and can lead to chronic pain for some people. According to the Migraine Trust, migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours. While there is no known cause for migraine, most people who suffer with it tend to be genetically predisposed to migraine.
- Family history of migraine
- Muscle tension and stress (especially in the neck, shoulders and back)
- Alcohol & Tobacco use. Also exposure to tobacco smoke
- Poor sleep
- Menstrual periods and the use of oral contraceptives. Some women find their migraines start at puberty and are linked to their menstrual cycle
- Excessive caffeine consumption and food and drinks which contain certain preservatives and artificial sweeteners are known to trigger migraines. Mild dehydration can also have an impact on people who have migraine
How can Osteopathy help?
The history taking is the most important part of the treatment process, as it will allow the osteopath to accurately diagnose what exactly is causing your headache.
If your osteopath diagnoses your headache or migraine as being due to poor posture or due to tension or strain in the muscles and joints of the neck and upper back, treatment will usually involve gentle massage techniques to loosen the joints and muscles of the neck, thorax and back, which will help to relieve the tension. We also use medical acupuncture at Nolan Osteopathy to treat headaches and migraines, which has proven to be very effective.
We will also offer guidance on exercise and lifestyle changes, which may include advice on simple changes you can make to your posture when at work, driving or even your sleeping position, which may help reduce the number of headaches that you experience.
If you’d like to find out more about headaches and migraines and how we can help, please feel free to;
01491 281972 (Henley clinic)
01635 597290 (Newbury or Thatcham clinic)
to speak to one of our highly qualified and fully insured osteopaths.
Thanks for reading 🙂