Many people suffer from headaches and migraines, often for many years without finding a solution.
Primary headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches, as well as a variety of other less common types of headaches.
- Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache. Tension headaches occur more commonly among women than men. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 20 people in the developed world suffer with a daily tension headache.
- Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache. Migraine headaches affect children as well as adults. Before puberty, boys and girls are affected equally by migraine headaches, but after puberty, more women than men are affected.
- Cluster headaches are a rare type of primary headache. It more commonly affects men in their late 20s, though women and children can also suffer from this type of headache.
The ‘mechanical’ causes of various types of headache are frequently overlooked. Muscular tension in the neck and shoulders can be a major factor and is often the underlying cause.
Stress and tiredness can also be a factor but this is more likely to lead to a headache when there is an underlying problem in the neck which has never been treated.
Headache is more common than back pain, and some headaches are very debilitating, even tension-type headaches. It makes sense for osteopaths to become involved in reducing any pre-existing tensions in muscles and joints as these can predispose you to these headaches. Osteopaths at RRMG can also give you useful advice to help the management and prevention of your symptoms.
Also, headaches can themselves be the cause a lot of neck and shoulder pains, especially in the case of migraines and other complex headache conditions. This may be because a lot of pain is directly referred from irritated nerves in the head and face, for example, or through the sheer stress of coping with the pain levels and other debilitating symptoms of the headache or migraine.
Osteopathy can make a big difference to a long term neck problem and alleviate a headache, even ones that have been troublesome for years. A medical history and osteopathic examination can discover problems in the body and check on spinal alignment.
We also give you time to discuss and consider all options open to you, based on the latest scientific evidence.
Can Osteopathy Help Migraine Sufferers
The answer, very often, is a resounding yes. According to current guidelines (e.g. MIPCA – www.mipca.org.uk) and widely-held expert opinion, osteopaths are well-placed to help alleviate the suffering of patients with migraine. We can help with prevention, not acute treatment or cure. Migraine is considered by headache experts worldwide to be a type of inflammatory neurological condition, something which comes and goes. It is related to the genes in most people, so osteopaths have to work within current medical guidelines derived from current best scientific evidence and stick to migraine prevention (see above). As with all human beings, however, every migraine is unique to the sufferer, and it may not be possible to help everyone with osteopathy, or indeed medication. It is a case of finding a tailor-made approach that suits each individual, and this takes time and perseverance from doctors, osteopaths and other practitioners.
Cerritelli, F., Lacorte, E., Ruffini, N., & Vanacore, N. (2017). Osteopathy for primary headache patients: a systematic review. Journal of pain research, 10, 601.
Tassorelli, C., Tramontano, M., Berlangieri, M., Schweiger, V., D’ippolito, M., Palmerini, V., … & Buzzi, M. G. (2017). Assessing and treating primary headaches and cranio-facial pain in patients undergoing rehabilitation for neurological diseases. The journal of headache and pain, 18(1), 99.