Can an Osteopath help you with headaches?
The simple answer is yes we can.
How does osteopathy work?
According to the British Association for the Study of Headache (BASH) headache is a problem likely to affect an
estimated 40% of the UK population at some point in their lives. It is also the leading cause of consultation in both general practice and specialist clinics as well as complementary therapy clinics such as osteopathy clinics.
Osteopathy is a manual therapy that uses as a main tool the hands of the osteopath. Osteopaths are healthcare professionals who are medically trained to be able to differentiate different types of headache and rule out possible red flags (hidden conditions that require medical intervention) and treat you according to their diagnosis.
What is an osteopathic treatment for headache like?
When a patient comes to see us complaining of headaches or migraines, we would start by taking a detailed case history, in which we would ask questions on the symptoms of the headache, your lifestyle, your medical history and your general health. This case history helps us gain an idea of what your body might be going through and whether treatment would be appropriate for you..
In most cases, headaches can be caused by changes in your jaw, neck and upper back complex. Many people are spending more and more time sitting down, either sitting at desks for long periods, driving for long periods and even looking down at phones, tablets and laptops more often. These are having without doubt having considerable impact on our spine and muscles.
Osteopathic treatment for headaches often includes the following techniques:
· Spinal manipulation to relieve joints’ restriction of movement and relax the musculature around them
· Soft tissue massage to gently restore the physiological muscle length of chronically tight muscles
· Trigger points’ inhibition to alleviate the muscular tension collected over specific areas of muscles
· Exercise prescription to improve your self-management skills at home and give you tools to manage with possible relapses more independently
It’s important to note that headaches can be caused by several different medical reasons such as, hormonal, heart related, neurological etc. If our initial case history shows anything that may be considered a red flag, then we would refer you back to your GP
Who can benefit from an osteopathic treatment for headache?
Literally anybody who suffers from chronic headache and/or migraine can benefit from a visit to the osteopath. In fact, the majority of headaches are found to be caused by musculoskeletal tension and/or postural issues and can be successfully treated by an osteopath.
Prolonged posture of sitting with our shoulders and neck protracted (hunched) affects the muscles of our neck, chest, upper back and even your jaw, causes them to become weak and tight. This posture also affects the joints of the spine, which causes them to become restricted and compressed. Headaches are caused when these restrictions and muscle imbalances affect the top three vertebrae in the neck.
Similarly, If the muscles that connect the jaw to the skull that are used for chewing, aren’t balanced with the alignment of our teeth, then it can cause inflammation and changes to the joint, face or head which in turn causes headaches.
So that’s why osteopathy can help relieve headaches from a muscular-skeletal perspective. We can help relax and stretch the muscles that have become tight. We can free the spinal and jaw restrictions and advise on strengthening exercise for your spine and upper back. We can also use gentle techniques to the skull that may help relieve the symptoms of headaches.