Osteopathy And Headaches – Causes and Preventions
Headaches affect nearly all people at some stage within our lifetime, with some sources stating that about 15 percent of the population is taking some sort of pain relief for a headache at any given time. Headaches decrease our work productivity, reduce our ability to exercise and can worsen our mood.
At St Kilda Osteopathy, we are experienced in assessing, diagnosing and treating all kinds of headaches. There are different types of headaches that can occur – tension headaches, migraines and cervicogenic (neck related) headaches.
Thankfully, the vast majority of headaches are caused by relatively benign conditions, such as tight and shoulder neck muscles, poor posture, stress, jaw problems and teeth grinding. However, they can also be caused by high blood pressure, hormonal changes and tumours. These may need to be investigated further by your GP or specialist.
First and foremost, if you have headaches that have no obvious explanation and are very rare for you please, please consult your GP for further follow up and medical management.
For those who suffer from tension headaches, migraines or neck/posture related headaches, our Melbourne Osteopaths at St Kilda Osteopathy will give you the most appropriate treatment and care for the management of these headaches. Osteopathic treatment will vary depending on the type of headache and complaint however it will all be ‘hands on’ and effective for your pain management!
We will also insist on some following self-management strategies that may help which are listed below.
Please feel free to email, call us or make as an appointment to discuss your headaches and best strategies for their treatment and management.
Heat-wheat packs/hot water bottles are very soothing and helpful. Place one of these over the tops of your shoulders and/or across base of your neck, for about 15 minutes. Most people report that this will help ease the depth and intensity of the pain in their necks and through their head. Heat will aid in circulation and help decrease some muscle tightness and cramping. Make sure that you do not have the heat pack too hot to avoid burns.
Apply Ice/Cold Pack:
Cold packs applied to the base of the skull or across the forehead can have a numbing effect and hence dull the sensation of pain and ease tension. Cold packs often work better for migraine sufferers.
Be aware of your Posture:
Are you reading this whilst at your desk or on your smart-phone? Are you slouched forward, bent at your mid back, with your shoulders rounded and chin jutting forward? Posture such as this places strain on the upper joints of the neck, and pulls on the muscles around the tops of shoulders and up the sides of the neck. This can cause joint and muscle irritation, spasm and inflammation, which may lead to referred pain into the head causing headaches. This can be helped with being aware of your posture, and by doing a few backward shoulder rolls, shoulder shrugs, side neck stretches and big arm circles. Please contact us for further help and information on how to do these stretches!
If you’re stressed, you might be grinding your teeth. This tightens up the muscles around your cheeks and on your temples. You can massage these muscles using your index and middle fingers, using small circular movements and medium pressure (don’t make it hurt!). Massage for about 2-3 minutes over the cheek, and then on the fleshy part of your temple, paying particular attention to any sore spots.
You may also want to massage the spots along the upper back near the shoulder blades – this can be done using a tennis ball or ‘spiky ball’ which can help relieve some of the neck and shoulder tension. Please ask us about these!
If you just can’t put your finger on what’s causing your headaches, you can download this handy little headache diary, which helps to identify any triggers.
By keeping a consistent and thorough headache diary for a week or two, your osteopath, GP or health professional is able to do a thorough analysis, and therefore, establish a treatment plan for you and your headaches.
Written by Dr. Claire Richardson (osteopath)
If you are in South Melbourne and looking for an Osteopath in Middle Park, Prahran, Caulfield, Elwood, Windsor or Melbourne CBD contact us for a full body assessment.