So many people suffer with headaches! From the occasional and mild to the truly awful, headache is invisible but debilitating. After many years of practice Andrew, one of the principal osteopaths , has developed an extremely successful approach to the treatment of chronic headache. The unit he runs is the Fulham Headache Clinic more details.
Even very severe and long standing tension headache generally responds well to treatment, and the aim is to eliminate the headache completely and permanently. This may take a course of treatment if the headache is long standing, but our success rate with tension headache has been audited at close to 100%.
We have referral systems in place for many local GP’s and therapists, we work together to make sure that your recovery is permanent. We have access to scans if any symptoms are concerning, and fully trained to recognise if medical care is your best option.
Osteopaths are famous for back pain treatment, yet a lot of our work is with headaches.
Andrew Cotton, Director of the Fulham Headache Clinic, explains headache. So what are its causes and what treatment is most appropriate for back pain?
What is Headache?
There are two basic types of headache:
- Tension Headache
- Vascular Headache (Migraine)
Tension Headache is caused by upper neck trouble, and tension into the muscles and tissues of your head and face, which you feel as an annoying headache.
We can say this with confidence because Andrew has developed a simple system of neck and back treatment that has audited success rates of over 80% in achieving significant pain reduction or elimination after treatment.
We have developed a natural, safe treatment protocol for all types of tension headache, which offers a chance not only of pain relief but long lasting elimination of symptoms. The treatment involves relaxation and integration of all the bones, muscles and nerves of the neck, and the de-stressing of the junction between the head and neck. This where most pain is usually felt, and often we can touch one of these small muscles and exactly reproduce your headache. This is very reassuring as the cause of the pain is clear and can be retested later after treatment.
But where does this tension and pain come from?
Whether due to posture, stress, old injuries or (as is most usual) a combination, headache often builds up, and is more common than you think in children.We treat many children with headache, especially in these days of smartphones and tablets.
As you can see above the back can be bent and “strained” by how we use it. Some parts get squashed and compressed, while others get stretched and weakened. The spine is a complex structure, and as it moves off of its natural, upright balance, so it acquires strains, stiffnesses and pains, which sow the seeds for further strains elsewhere. The picture becomes chaotic, the spine a map or record of the accidents and maltreatments that we have all had. This process of gradual accumulation of trouble added to the stress of life is what lies behind headache.
It is the mark of a good treatment for your headache, or a series of exercises like Pilates or Yoga, if it starts to smooth out these strains and reverses the process of accumulating trouble, so your back feels free, flexible and right again so you can get on with life.
It is not always obvious, but if your back in strained or injured it has to heal itself. We have in our bodies a fantastic natural repair system that mops up damage, lays down support to protect the injury and then gets on with repairs. A treatment for your headache must help this repair process, find out why it happened (cause), what it is (effect) and what is to be done (a plan!).
This is the art of the Osteopath, to read the situation in all its complexity and set the person on the road to recovery, safely and effectively.
Symptoms of Tension Headache
Does the following list sound at all familiar?
- Pain in the back of the head or upper neck pain
- Pain in the temples
- Pain behind the eye
- Pain over the top of the head
- Pain in more than one place at once
Tension Headachecan be vague or quite severe. You may have heard of “Psycho Somatic Pain” and wonder if stress or imagination has a role in what you feel. Actually people are quite accurate in what they feel - you shouldn’t feel any discomfort, and if it does not clear up in a few days it will benefit from a checkover and treatment. Usually it gets worse over time in our experience, but is actually quite easy to treat.
Tension Headache Treatment
Treatment for the tension headache will usually involve elements from the following:
- Enquiring how it happened
- Examining to find tenderness, swelling, mis-position etc. Where exactly does it hurt?
- Calming the nervous system to move the body from a state of alarm and action to a state of healing and repair
- Gently balancing and easing the structure to allow circulation and drainage. This uses releasing techniques, massage and (occasionally) clicking your neck (manipulation) which can give rapid relief.
- Giving advice regarding posture, rest and or exercise
- Cranial Treatment for the delicate structures of your head
How is headache treated? Tension headache is treated by treating the tension… Treatment takes away the tension and the cause of the tension, and voila! No more headache.
Headache due to blood vessels (Migraine)
If the nerves controlling your blood vessels in your brain become “sensitised” i.e. fire too easily, you get episodes of severe pain which come and go with various triggers as the blood circulation is affected. We understand this process which is why we can usually help with even severe migraines.
It may be in the person’s interest to overreact to a problem, so that the person takes it seriously and looks after themselves. This is a natural phenomenon, and encourages us to listen to our body and alter what we are doing. If one takes a painkiller in this scenario, the wisdom of the body is ignored.
If the problem is due to hypersensitivity - “neurogenic" or nerve created migraine then pain relief may contribute to a worsening of the situation as the swings of trouble get wider and wider till you are on the strongest painkillers and nothing helps! Physical treatment can help more naturally, using techniques which listen and communicate with the body, and calm the nerves down without simply switching them off. This may include discussing stress and diet, as many things often add together to create a state of excitability.
Headache due to injury
Headache can follow injury, such as whiplash. So what tissue is in trouble?
- Muscle Pain - The muscle may be fatigued, strained, or perhaps tight and stringy. The reason for the pain must be carefully addressed, and then the muscle relaxed using massage or functional (feedback) approaches.
- Joint Pain - whether due to arthritis, sprain or congestion, the joint of the neck or jaw (yes the jaw can lead to headache…) needs to be carefully brought into normal relations (straightened out) so that and strain is relieved.This is achieved by articulation (gentle movement of the joint) encouraging balance. Normal micro movements of the joints encourage circulation and drainage, swelling is reduced and repair encouraged. Pain should be eased, but can be briefly increased (healing reaction). This represents a rapid acceleration of the healing process, and typically lasts for 12-24 hours so relieving swelling and pain.
Headache Treatment FAQ
”It has helped me hugely…”
Category; Osteopathy and Natural Therapies
"Recommended to me for cranial osteopathy for migraines. It has help me hugely and i would recommend to anyone struggling to get a handle on their migraines!"
Written by: Jessica Walters - Google 5 star review
Osteopathy Treatment with Fulham Osteopaths
Date published: 10/02/2008
5 / 5 stars