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Can Osteopathy help my Headache?

Headaches and migraines are extremely common, and many people suffer from them almost daily. While there are medications out there to help manage or prevent headaches, for many people these are ineffective or only provide short-term relief. This is where Osteopathy may be able to help!

The most common forms of headaches are tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches (headache caused by a dysfunction in the neck) and migraines. Osteopaths’ can play a role in treating/managing each of these through hands-on treatment, lifestyle advice and specific rehab exercises.

Headaches can be triggered or influenced by a variety of lifestyle factors such as:

- Stress/anxiety: Stress can often trigger headaches and migraines, and can also amplify pain signals making the headache much more unbearable.

- Diet: Certain foods can act as ‘triggers’ for migraine sufferers. A diet high in sugar or caffeine can also contribute to the development of a headache. Headaches can also be aggravated by restrictive dieting.

- Hormones: Many women experience increases in headache pain or migraine episodes around their period due to changes in oestrogen levels.

- Gut issues: Migraines have been linked to deficiencies in serotonin (a mood regulating chemical), the gut is responsible for the production of up to 95% of the body’s serotonin. Therefore, gut issues may aggravate or trigger migraine episodes.

- Posture: Postural issues can increase strain on the neck, irritating the nerves arising in the neck that can refer pain to the head. Many structures in the neck can be responsible for causing headaches, this is very common in people who spend long periods of their day sitting at a desk.

It is important to address each of these factors to help identify and remove any potential headache ‘triggers’. Unfortunately, it is rarely just one of these factors responsible for the headaches, for many people it is a combination of each of them.

Osteopathic treatment of headaches and migraines generally involves a combination of manual therapy to the head, neck, jaw and upper back, as well as exercise prescription and lifestyle advice. While treatment provides relief from headache pain, exercises can reduce the likelihood of future headaches by improving the mobility and strength of the neck and shoulders.

Chronic headache pain should not be a normal part of life. If you’re unsure how to manage your headaches or migraines, why not give Osteo a go?

- Samantha Shelley


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