Headaches and migraines are extremely common; in fact, it has been estimated that 50% of adults suffer with at least one headache in the last year.
According to migraine statistics there are 1 billion people worldwide who suffer from migraines and during an attack 90% of sufferers are not able to function normally.
For a lot of people suffering from more severe headaches it can feel like they have a real pain in the brain, but the brain does not actually feel pain. So that pain felt is from the surrounding tissues such as blood vessels, nerves, organs, muscles and bones from either injury, inflammation or disease.
There are over 150 types of headaches but there are more common types of headaches, which we will go into a little more detail about, as well as what the common causes are, signs of more serious issues, what you can do to help yourself and how Osteopathy can help to alleviate symptoms and treat the cause of the problem.
Most common types of headaches
- Tension headaches – these occur when the muscles in the neck and head tighten. They generally cause mild to moderate pain like a band around the head.
- Migraine headaches – are usually described as a throbbing pain, often on one side of the head, that can last 2-3 days. There can be visual changes and increase in sensory sensitivity.
- Cluster Headaches – occur on one side of the head with pain around the eye. Other symptoms may include facial sweating, tearing of the eye and runny nose.
- Temporomandibular Joint Pain (Jaw pain) – the pain occurs over the temples in front of the ears.
Causes of Headaches
Headaches have numerous triggers, including stress, postural issues, loud noises, smells, muscle tension, food, teeth grinding or clamping, the weather, brain tumours, accidents, illness, eye strain, sinus inflammation, dehydration, allergies, lack of sleep and alcohol. It has recently been identified that the effect of the earth’s rotation around the sun, that impacts our biological rhythms, affects cluster headaches.
What you can do to help yourself
- Drink more water – increase your intake to 8 glasses a day.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco
- Get better sleep. If you know you have poor sleep and would like some advice on how to improve this aspect of your health, you can request a copy of our sleep hygiene guide here
- Stress management
- Walking, exercise and getting plenty of fresh air
- Regular breathing exercises and relaxation techniques such as meditation.
- Posture assessment and exercises to correct it, if necessary
- Diet changes – avoid processed foods.
- Keeping a diary or using a tracker app can help to identify why headaches are occurring.
How can Osteopathy Help
Osteopaths will take detailed case history and physical examination to be able to diagnose the cause of your headache or migraine.
You will be asked questions about:
- Eating habits
- Work environment
- Water consumption
- Stress levels
All these factors can affect headaches and migraines.
Signs of more serious issues, such as
- High fever
- Pain following a head injury
- Loss of vision and numbness or muscle weakness in the hands or feet Will be ruled out, then treatment can be provided.
Osteopath’s treatment uses a holistic, big picture approach to healing.
Their aim is to encourage the body’s own healing mechanisms to improve physical health and wellbeing for each individual patient, looking into the intricate relationship between the body’s structure and the way it works.
Treatment may include soft-tissue massage and articulation of joints and organs to relieve tension in tight muscles and connective tissue, encourage blood circulation, and lymph movement.
Depending on the cause of the headaches or migraine, Osteopath’s can give you diet advice or exercises to do, which help with your posture and other aspects of lifestyle that may be impacting your symptoms. They may ask you to start track your symptoms to clearly identify what are the causes behind your pain.
Virtually everyone has a headache at some point in their life. If you are suffering from recurring headaches and finding that your life is being detrimentally affected, there are 150 types of headaches, so it is important to get a diagnosis from a qualified health professional.
Osteopaths can help to diagnose the cause and treat the issue or if necessary, refer you on to a specialist.
If you know any friends or family that regularly suffer from headaches or migraines and could benefit from this post, please share.
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