What are they, why do I get them, and how can I not?
There are a range of reasons that people experience headaches. Common reasons include lifestyle causes such as dehydration, low blood sugar, hangover, etc., which can generally can be treated with water, food, or medical assistance, if severe. Common recurrent headaches can also be due to referred pain from the joints or muscles of the head and neck such as a ‘tension’ headache or ‘cervicogenic’ headache. These types of headaches can be due to poor posture, jaw clenching/grinding/stress, sickness/cold/coughing, dental work, neck issues, muscle tension, accidents like strains/sprains, or history of whiplash. Then there are more uncommon causes such as underlying pathologies or medical emergencies.
How can an osteopath help people with recurrent headaches?
Headaches referring from the neck can be accompanied by tight/stiffness in the neck and shoulders, pain or discomfort at the base of the skull, or referring over the skull to the eyes and forehead. Headaches referring from the jaw may be felt as radiation from the joint next to your ears into the temples or like a tight band around the head. Sinus headaches can refer from inflammation within the mucosa of the sinus due to bacteria or viral infections or poor drainage.
An osteopath can assist with these headaches by easing muscle tension and helping to free up joints of the neck and jaw to reduce referral into the head, as well as encourage blood flow and drainage of the head and neck to help reduce symptoms. If recurrent headaches are a part of your life, you may benefit from a trip to your osteo! As well as a hands-on treatment, we can help you out with advice around posture, ergonomics, general fitness, and wellbeing factors that may be contributing to your headaches, and refer you to specialist advice, if required.
A migraine is different from a headache.
Migraines differ from person to person, but they usually involve severe pain, nausea/vomiting, photophobia (sensitive to light), an aura (changes to vision including seeing spots/colours), and needing to lay down or sleep until it passes. People often become familiar with their symptoms and triggers, but if you are experiencing these symptoms for the first time, or if they have changed or increased in frequency I would recommend you check in with your GP or seek medical advice. Some people also find an osteopath can be beneficial in reducing severity and frequency of migraines.
Dr Annabelle Balharry