How Osteopathy Treats Headaches and Migraines

Posted In: Osteopathy

They can last a few hours to weeks on end. Headaches and migraines are often more than a causal annoyance and can affect everything in your day-to-day life. That’s why finding relief from headache aches and pains is important to healthy, happy living. Osteopathy can help treat the underlying causes of headaches and migraines, allowing patients to return to pain-free lives. Keep reading to learn more about headaches and migraines and how osteopathy can help. 

Common types of headaches

There are over 200 different types of headaches known to medical professionals, and approximately 40% of the population experience headache disorders (women more often than men). 

Each has different sources, triggers, and treatments. The three most common types of headaches include: 

  • Tension headaches: These are felt on both sides of your head and are likened to tightness or pressure on your head. They are commonly associated with stress and postural tension. 30-90% of people suffer tension headaches at least some times in their lifetime.
  • Migraines: Migraine headaches cause pain on one side of your head and can be so severe that they trigger nausea, vomiting, abdomen pain, and vision problems. The exact cause of these is mainly unknown. The American Migraine Association estimates that over one billion people live with migraine pain worldwide.
  • Cervicogenic headaches: These headaches occur daily where the upper neck and head meet and can cause pain around the eyes. Cervicogenic headaches affect about 15-20% of all headache sufferers. 

 Triggers

Headaches usually indicate an injury or discomfort elsewhere in the body. Common triggers for them include:

  • Physical tension
  • Mental stress
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Joint strain
  • Eye strain
  • Sinus congestion
  • Whiplash
  • Poor posture
  • Jaw imbalance or teeth-grinding
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Blood pressure
  • Allergies

 

Migraines have more specific potential triggers that are unique from other headaches. These include:

  • Eating salty or highly processed foods
  • Skipping meals
  • Stress (and the stress of stress)
  • Hormonal shifts (in women)
  • Consumption of caffeine or alcohol
  • Changes in weather or barometric pressure outside
  • Lacking regular, routine sleep patterns
  • Exposure to bright lights or fluorescent or flickering bulbs (known as Photophobia)

 

Triggers are unique to each individual, but identifying them is the key to treating the underlying cause of your headaches. An Osteopath can help you uncover that root cause. 

How Osteopathy can provide headache relief

Osteopathy takes a holistic approach to health and believes in not just treating the symptoms, but healing the root cause of injury or pain. Since many triggers are based on your musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, nerves, connective tissues, and internal organs), Osteopathy is a perfect treatment option. 

Through gentle manipulation of the muscles and joints in your neck and spine, Osteopathy opens your body’s systems, so blood flow increases and internal body communications (your nervous system) can flow more freely. Osteopathy also helps soothe tense muscles and joints so you can move more easily. Proper body alignment supports a strong posture, a common cause of headaches. 

Treating headaches caused by an injury

Often, your headache is caused or made worse by a physical injury or body trauma. These are common injuries to your neck, whiplash, postural problems, stress or compensatory change. Osteopathy can help loosen muscles and relax muscle spasms through gentle, hands-on therapy like massage. 

If the nerves exiting your spinal column are irritated due to inflammation or injury, you may feel pain at the base of your skull and behind your eyes. In these situations, spinal alignment can have a more direct effect than muscle massage and relaxation. 

Treating headaches caused by your posture

Poor posture can affect the whole body. It can limit your nerves’ ability to send signals around the body, impact how you walk or sleep, and cause pain, discomfort, and headaches. 

When they are caused by poor posture, your osteopath can help you correct it through exercises and education about proper posture techniques. They might suggest exercises to strengthen your core muscles to make sitting and standing with good posture easier. An easy way to do this is to sit on a balance ball rather than a computer chair. They can also recommend lumbar support to help your body stay aligned while sitting at your desk at work. 

Treating headaches due to jaw tension

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain (stress in the jaw) can cause headaches. This tension can be caused by stress or injury. An Osteopath can use cranial techniques to help realign the bones in your mouth and jaw and massage to soothe inflamed muscles. This can help reduce or eliminate headaches resulting from your tight jaw.

How to discover the root cause of your headaches

Your osteopath will ask you questions about your headaches and lifestyle to help uncover the root cause of your pain. To help in the discussion, create a headache diary. Record your symptoms, frequency, and pain levels. If you suspect any triggers (like food and drink, stress, or other external triggers), note them too. 

It’s also helpful to keep a nutritional diary to identify if any food or drink consumption triggers them, which could indicate possible migraine headaches. Stay hydrated to help your body function optimally and avoid dehydration headaches. 

Where to get Osteopathic support for headaches

An Osteopath can help you find the root cause of your pain. I can help you find relief through gentle, manual manipulation of your body’s musculoskeletal system and recommend lifestyle adjustments to remove your headache triggers. 

At Thuja Wellness, I believe in supporting your whole-life health, even after your appointment. That’s why I’ll always provide you with aftercare instructions and tips to manage your health between sessions. These may include exercises, lifestyle changes, diet amendments, or avoidance of specific triggers. 

Ready to finally say goodbye to headaches for good? Book an appointment at Thuja Wellness today, and let’s start your path to ultimate wellness and healing.