Headaches and migraines are a very common reason why patients attend our clinic. Almost everyone at some point in time would of experienced the unpleasant sensation of having a headache. They can range from the occasional headache to very regular intense headaches or migraines.
Symptoms of headaches and migraines
There are many different types of headaches. The most common adult ones are tension headaches, migraines and sinus headaches. Tension headaches present with pressure and tightness around the neck and head including the temporal region. Often they represent a hatband distribution, meaning it feels like wearing a very tight hat. Migraines often start with some type of visual disturbance or aura. They lead to throbbing and sharp pain often with nausea, dizziness and light sensitivity. Sinus headaches are associated with sinus irritation or infections. The pain is often at the front of the head and face, with pressure around the frontal or maxillary sinuses.
Children and adolescents can also experience headaches. This can be caused from strain resulting from poor sleeping position and poor posture from using I-pads, phones and computers. School age children can be prone to headaches from the large school bags they use, from sitting in class for prolonged periods of time and from the pressures of school. Children can also feel nausea without any head symptoms.
Causes of headaches and migraines
Causes include sensitivities or allergies to different foods and drinks, dehydration, sinus irritation, dental and eye issues, stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, a head injury or from colds and viruses.
A very common cause of headaches and migraines can be from muscle tension or joint strain of the upper back and neck. This is where your osteopath can help. Many people hold tension in their upper back and neck regions. Modern life can be very stressful and this can cause many people to hold increased levels of muscle tension through their upper back, shoulders and neck. In some people this can trigger a cervicogenic headache. This means a headache that comes from the neck area. These headaches are a very common reason why patients come to our clinic.
In rare cases, headaches and migraines can be caused from underlying pathology which have certain features or red flags that the osteopath looks for in the case history.
Osteopathic examination of headaches and migraines
The consultation starts with a comprehensive history including past accidents, illnesses, surgery or anything else that may relate to the headaches. Your osteopath will be interested in the pattern and symptoms of the presenting pain and will be trying to find out what has contributed to the onset and continuity of the headaches. Your osteopath may ask you about your work, stress, diet, hobbies, exercise habits, interests and if there has been anything you have changed recently or done differently that may have caused increased tension to your upper back and neck.
Osteopathic treatment for headaches and migraines
Our treatment involves in taking a whole body approach and locating areas of increased muscle tension and joint strain that may be involved in triggering the headaches or migraines. These areas may include the neck, jaw, upper back, lower back, pelvis and even leg length or ankle imbalances which can cause a compensation pattern going all the way up the spine to the upper neck.
All the osteopaths at Brisbane Osteopathic Centre use a very gentle technique. This is ideal in treating the neck region as your osteopath can release any muscle tension and joint strain without using any forceful or strong neck manipulation. Many people do not like having their necked cracked, so our treatment is ideal for these patients. With our method there is no clicking or cracking of the neck. Your osteopaths balances these areas with gentlest of pressure.
Managing headaches and migraines
Part of the management is being aware of any triggering factors such as food, stress or holding increased muscular tension in the shoulders, upper back and neck. Working on correct posture and especially of the upper body and neck regions can help keep the neck in a neutral position and thereby decrease excessive pulling on the sensitive neck muscles. Neck and upper body stretching can help, as to using heat or rubbing something like magnesium cream onto the tight areas. Decreasing or managing stress in a better way can help also.
Why choose an osteopath
Osteopaths look at headaches and migraines in a holistic way and can be an alternative to other manual therapists like chiropractors, physiotherapists and massage therapists. They take a whole body approach and want to find other areas that may be contributing to your pain. Osteopaths look at how headaches and migraines may be influenced biomechanically from other body regions like the neck, jaw, and upper back as an example. This whole body approach means the osteopath may be able to reduce pain and improve mobility more efficiently. Osteopaths can treat both acute and chronic headaches and migraines and treat the neck in a gently way without any strong neck manipulation.