People of all ages with headaches and migraines commonly present to our osteopaths.
Tension-type headache is the most widespread headache disorder. Recent international studies have shown the average prevalence as 36% for men and 42% for women. This means that about 7 million Australians are likely to have tension-type headaches!
Tension-type headaches, despite the name, are not necessarily caused by tension or stress.
Common triggers include:
- excessive muscle contraction (neck and shoulder muscles)
- facial tension (frowning)
Do I have tension-type headaches?
The following symptoms are common to tension type headaches:
- dull and persistent pain that may vary in intensity (mild to moderate) and is usually felt on both sides of the head or neck (some however experience jabs of sudden pain in the head)
- a constant, tight, heavy or pressing sensation on or around the head
- tautness and tenderness of scalp, neck and shoulder muscles
- neck movements (active or passive) restricted by muscular stiffness and discomfort
- ache in the back or over the left side of the chest
- recurrent and episodic pain (often in association with stress) that can last for minutes, hours, days, months or even years
- mild sensitivity to light and noise (may occur in severe attacks)
- nausea and indigestion
- trouble concentrating and difficulty sleeping
- depression and anxiety (common).
Migraine is a common and distressing disorder.
The International Headache Society classifies a headache as a migraine when:
(a) the pain can be classified by at least two of the following;
- one sided
- moderate to severe
- aggravated by movement
(b) there is at least one of the following associated symptoms:
- photophobia (sensitivity to light)
- phonophobia (sensitivity to noise)
(c) the headache lasts for between 4 and 72 hours.
Other symptoms may be experienced including sensitivity to smell or light, difficulty in concentrating amongst others.
It is currently thought that migraine is caused by the interaction between the brain and the cranial blood vessels. Triggers are many and varied, not the same for everyone and not necessarily the same for different attacks in the same person.
There is some evidence to support the use of osteopathy in the treatment of headache and migraine, however further research is needed.
- The evidence that spinal manipulation alleviates tension type headaches is encouraging, but inconclusive. Further research is needed. link to research
- Research suggests that massage therapy, physiotherapy, relaxation and spinal manipulative therapy might be equally effective as propranolol and topiramate in the prophylactic management of migraine. However, these had many methodological shortcomings and therefore, future, well-conducted trials are needed. link to research
- Manipulation appears to have a better effect than massage for cervicogenic headache. It also appears that spinal manipulation has an effect comparable to commonly used first-line prophylactic prescription medications for tension-type headache and migraine headache. link to research
What to expect from your osteopathic session:
Your first consultation will include a comprehensive case history followed by an assessment of your posture, muscle tone and flexibility, joint range of motion, spinal alignment and pelvic balance to determine the cause of pain or illness.
Osteopathic diagnosis is made and explained to you, along with the proposed treatment.
With your consent, the osteopath then applies treatment with their hands using soft tissue massage, joint articulation, some joint manipulation and very subtle (cranial or biodynamic) techniques. Exercise prescription often follows, and is important to prolong the effects of treatment and assist long term pain relief, recovery and rehabilitation.
Most of our patients report feeling quite relaxed and refreshed at the end of their osteopathic session. You may feel tired and a bit sleepy even. This is a good sign! You may want to go home and rest to allow your body to integrate the treatment.
Our osteopaths use creative thinking and clinical reasoning based on 5 years university training plus years of clinical experience to develop treatment approaches for the person, not the problem. Our work stays interesting, fun and enjoyable ….! and our patients receive the best treatment to resolve their concern.
Read more about our osteopaths here.
If you have any questions please call us on 03 9687 3040, or make an appointment using our secure online booking tool.