Osteopathy for Headaches and Migraine
Headaches can have a number of causes. Most of us have experienced the dehydration headache which follows a night of alcoholic excess, and some of us may worry that a headache is due to something more sinister such as high blood pressure or a brain haemorrhage. However the commonest headache is due to tension in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. This tension may be caused by stress or by poor posture, or of course a combination of the two.
Why have I got a headache?
Sitting at a desk tends to encourages us to round the upper back and this makes the head jut forward. This puts tremendous strain on the muscles at the back of the neck and as they tighten they compress the nerves which pass through them on the way to the scalp. Compression of the nerves causes pain which is experienced as a headache. Alternatively the muscle itself may be the origin the problem, referring pain up into your head, where it is experienced as a headache, rather than neck pain or shoulder pain.
Unfortunately not all headaches are benign. Headaches may be the first sign of high blood pressure. A severe headache of sudden onset can presage a brain haemorrhage, while a headache which has developed over weeks or months and is also worst in the morning before rising may indicate a tumour. Headaches due to disease such as this are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting and visual problems. However if you develop headaches which are new or different from what you have been accustomed to, it is wise to get them seen to by a professional. For most people this will be their GP.
Can osteopathy help my headache?
If you suffer from frequent headaches, resorting to pain-killers is not the answer. Once anything sinister has been ruled out, Sorrel will address the cause of the headaches, and give you advice on posture and any lifestyle changes which may be necessary to prevent the headaches recurring. However if she has reason to suspect the headache is due to something more serious she will refer you back to your GP for further tests.
Osteopathic treatment for headaches addresses the cause of the pain, whether it be tension in the muscles of the neck, poor posture, stress, an inability to relax or occupational habits. While Sorrel cannot take away the stresses you face in daily life, it may be possible to ease the headaches by enabling your body to cope better with those stresses. By helping you to relax and at the same time to improve your posture, osteopathic treatment may help you to get rid of those headaches.
Treatment will be aimed at relaxing muscles which have become tight and may be painful themselves or compressing nerves. Any joint stiffness will be addressed, and Sorrel will help to correct your posture both by working on muscle imbalances and by advising on exercises. She will also check that you are drinking enough water, getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet.
What can I do to help my headache?
As we have seen a headache may be due to a number of different causes. But there are some simple steps you can take to help reduce the number and intensity of your headaches:
- Make sure you are drinking plenty of water – 1.5 – 2 litres a day spread throughout the day.
- Get adequate sleep: the light from computer screens, tablets, i-pads and mobile phones can keep you awake, so as well as going to bed on time, make surethat you have left a good couple of hours between switching off your screens and going to bed.
- Ensure you are not eating too much sugar – this may be a problem if you drink a lot of fizzy drinks, take sugar in tea or coffee, or eat cakes and biscuits. It is important to stick to complex carbohydrates if you do not want to get a “sugar rush.”
- Watch your caffeine consumption – caffeine can give you headaches, and so can caffeine withdrawal, so only take coffee and other high-caffeine drinks in moderation.
- Check your posture both at work and home – try to balance your head above your shoulders rather than “sticking your neck out.”
- If you tend to wake up with headaches or neck and shoulder pain, you may want to think about a Goldilocks pillow. These pillows come in five different sizes so there will be one to suit your frame.
- Book an appointment online, by clicking the “book now” button on this page. You will get £5 off your first appointment as a thank you for booking online!