Headache is pain anywhere in the region or the head or neck.It can be a symptom of a number of conditions and can be benign or serious. The brain itself doesn’t have any main pain points , it’s the pain sensitive structures around the brain that do. I.e. muscles, nerves, arteries and veins, sinuses, membranes to name but a few.
Signs and Symptoms
There are 5 main types of headache
1. Tension headache is the most common type. This feels like a constant ache or pressure around the head, temples or back at the head and neck. This doesn’t usually cause nausea or vomiting and rarely cause people to stop carrying out their normal activities. Over the counter pain killers or anti-inflammatory often help resolve this.
2. Cluster headaches. This affects more men than women and occur in groups or cycles. They suddenly appear, can be very severe, often on one side of the head. They can often be associated with a watery eye, nasal congestion or a runny nose on the side affected. During these attacks it can make someone quite restless and laying down may not help the symptoms unlike in migraines. There is no cure but medication may help.
3. Sinus headaches. This is when a sinus becomes inflamed usually due to an infection. This often comes with a fever. Treatment is often with antibiotics.
4. Rebound headaches. These are often caused by overuse of over the counter pain killers. Theories are that too much medication can make the brain excited triggering more headaches or that drops in level of the medication in the blood stream causes withdrawal symptoms.
5. Migraine headaches. These can often be familial. A sufferer should have had at least 5 previous episodes of headaches. They should last between 4- 72 hours. Symptoms should include at least 2 of these; pain on one side, throbbing pain, moderate to severe in level and affects or is worsened by normal life. Nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise may also be present. Sufferers may also get visual disturbances or hand numbness. This can be referred to as auras.
How can Osteopathy help headaches?
Tension type headaches as mentioned are the most common type of headaches seen. Trials have shown that manipulation can help long term control of these type of headaches. (Brontfort 2004)
As mentioned a lot of headaches can be caused by muscle problems, stress related tension, sinus problems or even incorrect posture (neck) Osteopathy uses manipulation to relieve these muscles and techniques to improve circulation and drainage.