What causes headaches?
Most headaches, whether tension headache, migraine, sinus headache or posture related, are caused by tight muscles. Our muscles work as a system, attached to each other and to our skeleton – including our skull – so it makes sense that headache pain may be caused by something not working quite right elsewhere i.e. lower in the body (think neck, upper back).
How we treat persistent headache pain
At Vibe Natural Health in Brisbane, we are often asked, ‘can headaches be treated by an osteopath?’ The answer is yes.
Osteopaths at Vibe Natural Health in Brisbane, take a detailed case history to identify the cause of your particular headache pain. When we provide headache pain treatments for people, we can often press a particular spot and they will say ‘that spot feels like the headache I get’. This gives us a clear insight into type of headache and how to treat.
We have many techniques and treatments to apply to relieve all types of tension, sinus, postural, chronic migraine and headache pain. Patients will receive hands-on treatment in their initial session.
It is common for our patients to experience some relief after one or two sessions, but everyone is different! Our aim is to provide relief from acute pain as quickly as possible – long term reprieve is often only achieved after three to six treatments.
Tension headache treatment
Our modern lifestyle, such as long hours of desk work, computer and mobile device postures, driving and stress means our muscles contract – which is normal – but when this contraction is sustained for lengthy periods without a break, it can cause very tight, difficult to release muscular tension leading to tension headaches, that can be recurrent. If recurring headaches are experienced for longer than three months, they are considered chronic headaches. Pain relief for this type of headache is difficult without help from a manual therapist.
Muscle tension through the upper back, shoulders and neck – often more so on one side – is experienced as tightness on both sides of the back and neck usually with one side feeling worse.
Often, pain is felt where the head meets the neck – known as the cervicogenic region and referred to as cervical pain. People also feel pain in the back of head, or sinus at front of head.
A tension headache is easy to diagnose, it feels like pressure is coming from all sides.
Your posture is likely the trigger of this type of headache pain commonly provoked by computer work involving the ‘mouse hand’, as our patients often describe it, causing referred pain on the opposite side of the neck and contributing to the headache.
Sinus headache pain relief
It is usually fairly obvious to people who seek osteopathic treatment for sinus headaches that it is caused by sinus congestion. You feel heavy in the face, across your cheekbones and brow, and it’s worse for bending forward or straining.
Often the pain radiates to the forehead, temple and cheek with other effects like a blocked or runny nose, a post nasal drip or cough. It can also lead to earache, jaw pain and swelling in the face.
Patients often describe the effects as a foggy head, low concentration ability and facial pain. It is a build-up of pressure that causes the pain and the treatment aim is to relieve that pressure and reduce inflammation.
Postural headache management
You might be aware that your posture is causing headache pain. Osteopathy treats the whole body, if something is out of alignment at the bottom of the body it can reoccur as neck pain, headache or upper back pain. A realignment of your whole body can assist with this type of chronic headache treatment.
By ensuring ribs are moving evenly and loosening up the pecs and front of chest in a person who is hunched over and feels they can’t ‘straighten up’ their back, allows the shoulders to drop back into position. These patients often find it hard to sit or stand up straight. Sometimes feeling really tight through the front of neck and often with nerve pain in hand.
Extending through the back helps to maintain good posture permitting shoulders to roll back instead of stuck forward, then we loosen up all the tense muscles that are pulling up through the neck causing the headache pain.
The patient who suffers from postural headache pain is usually self-aware of the problem. This is great because if they get regular treatment, they can pick up the warning signs before it becomes really severe. We can help educate and provide methods to correct postural habits and provide acute postural headache pain relief.
Other types of headaches – stress related and temporomandibular (TMJ) jaw pain relief
Our goals with stress induced headache pain is to loosen everything up! Fascial tension including neck, jaw, upper back and shoulders can commonly be relieved by osteopathic treatments to provide acute relief.