Common conditions

About Headaches

Headaches and migraines are extremely common. According to the World Health Organization, it has been estimated that 50% of adults suffered 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. The pain felt is from the surrounding tissues such as blood vessels, nerves, organs, muscles and bones from either injury, inflammation or disease.

Virtually everyone has a headache at some point in their life. There are 150 types of headaches, such as stress headache, hypertension headaches, thunderclap headaches, temple headache, dehydration headache, lack of sleep headache, frontal headache, anxiety headache, cluster headache, caffeine headache, period headache, post exercise headache, sinus headache. It is important to get a diagnosis from a qualified health professional.

Osteopaths can help to diagnose the cause of the headache and treat the issue or if necessary, refer you on to a specialist.

4 Common Types of Headaches

1. 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.

2. Migraine headaches
Migraines 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.

3. Cluster Headaches
These 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.

4. 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
> Allergies
> Lack of sleep
> Alcohol

On top of that 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
  • 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 with Headaches and Migraines

Our Osteopaths will take a detailed case history and physical examination to be able to diagnose the cause of your headache or migraine. Many factors can affect headaches and migraines. You will be asked questions about:

  • Eating habits
  • Work environment
  • Exercise
  • Water consumption
  • Stress levels

And you’ll be checked for 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

An Osteopath’s treatment uses a holistic, big picture approach to healing. Depending on the cause of the headaches or migraines, Osteopaths can give you advice or exercises, which help with your posture and other aspects of your lifestyle that may be impacting your symptoms. They may ask you to start tracking your symptoms to clearly identify what the causes are behind your pain.

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