Headaches come in a number of different types including, tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches and cervicogenic headaches. They vary in severity from relatively mild through to very severe and disabling. For many sufferers, osteopathic treatment provides a great deal of relief.

 

Some headaches result from stiffness and tension in the shoulders and neck whilst others are triggered by food, sleep, neurological and circulatory factors.

 

 

Tension type headaches are the most common type and are triggered by muscular tension in the neck, back, behind the eye or other muscle groups. They may last from minutes to days. Common causes include, stress, posture, lack of sleep, dehydration, eye strain, hunger or caffeine withdrawal.

 

Migraine headaches are moderate to sever headaches, usually affecting one side of the head and pulsating. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sensitivity to sound (phonophobia). Some sufferers see an aura in the early stage of the attack. The mechanism causing migraine is not fully understood. Migraines are 3 times more in females than males and often occur around menstruation. They may be triggered by stress, hunger, fatigue and various food types. They may also be affected by oral contraceptives, pregnancy and the menopause.

 

Cluster Headaches are rare (affecting 0.1% of population) and are named as they occur in clusters. They are very severe, one sided headaches with a sudden onset later followed by a sudden remission. They occur  when blood vessels dilate causing pressure on the trigeminal nerve. The mechanism behind this is not understood.

 

Cervicogenic headaches is defined as unilateral or bilateral pain localized to the neck and occipital region which may project to regions on the head and/or face. Head pain is precipitated by neck movement, sustained awkward head positioning, or external pressure over the upper cervical or occipital region (base of skull) on the symptomatic side.

 

 

Osteopathic treatment including manipulation is effective in headaches associated with pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders as well as migraine. Typically treatment includes a thorough assesment of movement especially the joints of the neck, manipulation/mobilisation/massage, coupled with home exercises and postural/lifestyle advice.