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All about headaches… & how your osteopath may help.

By Osteopath, Kevin Tee

Headache is a catch-all term generally used to describe pain felt in the head and neck region. Headaches can present in the form of migraines, tension-type, cluster and cervicogenic. They can be caused by various different factors.

Common causes of headaches include:
• Dehydration
• Fatigue
• Stress
• Viral/ bacterial infections
• Muscular tension
• Poor posture
• Head and neck injuries
These conditions can cause irritation or inflammation of the muscles, nerves, arteries and sinuses which stimulate the pain receptors resulting in pain. Pain occurring in region of the head and neck can also transmit and cause pain in a nearby region such as a headache due to neck injury, sometimes known as referred pain.

Due to the various different causes of headaches it is no surprise that so many people suffer from them with over 15% of Australians experiencing some form of headache each year.
Headaches can be classified into two main categories;

Primary: Primary headaches are the most common accounting for 90% of headaches and are not caused by an underlying condition. While they can lead to severe pain and discomfort they are usually not life threatening. An example is Tension-type headaches, which are the most common form of headaches. Tension-type headaches can be described as a tight compressive band around the head, they are commonly caused by physical or emotional stress, muscle tightness in the head and neck as well as poor posture.

Secondary: Secondary Headaches, as the name implies, are secondary due to an underlying condition such as a neck injury or as a side effect of medication. More serious causes of secondary headaches include infections, head trauma or meningitis.

If headaches are experienced with the following symptoms then it is important to seek medical advice from a GP:
• Nausea or vomiting
• Neck stiffness
• Fever
• Bleeding or fluid loss from the nose of ears
• Changes in speech
• Visual changed
• Numbness or tingling

How can your osteopath can help you with headaches?

Osteopaths at Growing Bones can help you by identifying the type and cause of your headache through a detailed recording of your background and medical history along with an osteopathic examination to determine if a referral is needed.
An osteopathic examination can identify source of the pain whether it is from muscles, joints or nerve, and often the contributory or causative factor such as poor posture, muscular imbalances or stress.

What you can do to help yourself...

Many headaches can be relieved, and then prevented by
• Adequate hydration- drinking plenty of water, 2-3 litres a day for moderately active people
• Ample sleep- get at least 7 hours a night, a nap while you have a headache can often take the edge off
• Simple stretches prescribed by your osteopath, such as our osteomoves below:

Neck Space

Neck Space

Chest Decompress

Chest Decompress

Sometimes you can do all these things and the headache just doesn't shift. In these cases, often your osteopath may be able to help. Osteopathic treatment involves the use of massage, stretching, and joint articulation to address the source of the pain and any contributory postural restrictions from past injuries and other lifestyle impacts.
Your osteopath will often prescribe stretches and postural exercises to provide relief as well as decrease the chance of reoccurrence.

Had enough of your headache?  Talk to one of our osteopaths today... 03 9687 3040 or book online.

Kevin Tee is available Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Growing Bones, after hours appointments available.

About the Author

Melissa McDougall