For those who suffer from chronic headaches the world can frequently seem a lonely place; often the medical world offers little in the way of answers as to the underlying cause of the headaches, and even more frequently offers no effective solution. The result of which can be truly frustrating, and isolating, for the sufferer.

Understanding the common potential causes for headaches, and appreciating how the muscles and joints of the neck work can be a good starting point to seeking out effective treatment.

Types of headaches

Tension-type Headache

Tension headaches (also known as muscle contraction headache, psychomyogenic headache, ordinary headache, idiopathic headache and even psychogenic headaches) are those that may be suffered for anything that lasts from minutes, to days.

They do not become more intense with physical exertion and typically are not associated with nausea. The sufferer of this form of headache may become sensitive to both light and sound.

It is thought that between 30% to 78% people will suffer this form of headache at some stage during their life.

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are those that recur and that may last for between 4 to 72 hours; they are frequently associated with intense, pulsating pain (that can be exacerbated with physical exertion) and nausea.

Migraine headaches are far less common than tension-type headaches, with only around 12% of the population thought to suffer them throughout their life.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster Headaches are those of the most severe kind, presenting pain throughout the head which may begin around the eye, or side of the head. They generally last for between 15 to 180 minutes, and can occur once a day, or up to as many as eight times a day.

Further symptoms include: nasal congestion, runny nose, forehead and facial sweating, dropping eyelids or eyelid swelling.

Cluster Headaches are the rarest form of headaches, with as few as 1% of the population suffering from an occurrence in their lifetime.

Which headaches benefit from osteopathy?

Migraine and cluster headaches are associated with the vascular system (the network of blood vessels). Whilst Tension headaches are linked to muscular contractions. Because of this, it is tension headaches that benefit the most from osteopathy.

Most notably studies, such as Bronfort’s 2004 study, have proven that the combination of osteopathy and exercise programmes are at least as effective as drugs such as amitriptyline, and provide the benefit of having fewer side effects.

How osteopathy treats headaches

Osteopaths apply a wide range of techniques to ease headaches. These can ranges from the manipulation of the neck and upper spine, to also include tissue massage throughout the back.

Further techniques, although less common, include lymphatic drainage techniques, dry needling /trigger point therapy and acupuncture.

We can also provide advice and guidance as to how stretching exercises should be undertaken between treatments.

If you’re suffering with headaches then give us a call on 020 3589 8664 to see how we can help.