The first thing about your headache you need to know is: What kind of headache is it?
If you know your headache type, you can treat it correctly, otherwise you can go around in circles which is frustrating and can also give you a headache!
1. Tension headaches, the most common type, feel like a constant ache or pressure around the head, especially at the temples or back of the head and neck. Not as severe as migraines, they don’t usually cause nausea or vomiting, and they rarely halt daily activities.
Over-the-counter painkillers, are usually sufficient to treat them. it is believed tension headaches may be caused by the contraction of neck and scalp muscles (including in response to stress), and possibly changes in brain chemicals. It is therefore logical that if you are suffering from recurrent headaches that some form of manual therapy can be effective in preventing them by loosening off the muscles at the top of the neck leading to the skull allowing for better blood flow and less pain!
2. Cluster headaches, which affect more men than women, are recurring headaches that occur in groups or cycles. They appear suddenly and are characterized by severe, debilitating pain on one side of the head, and are often accompanied by a watery eye and nasal congestion or a runny nose on the same side of the face.
During an attack, people often feel restless and unable to get comfortable; they are unlikely to lie down, as someone with a migraine might. The cause of cluster headaches is unknown and there is no cure, but some medication can help cut the frequency and duration of the headache.
3. Sinus Headaches, When a sinus becomes inflamed, often due to an infection, it can cause pain. It usually comes with a fever and can be diagnosed by symptoms or the presence of pus viewed through a fiber-optic scope. Headaches due to sinus infection can be treated with antibiotics, as well as antihistamines or decongestants. Sometimes osteopathy can help by using manual techniques to help drain the sinuses and reduce the pain associated with the pressure inside.
4. Migraine Headaches can run in families and are diagnosed using certain criteria.
- At least five previous episodes of headaches
- Lasting between 4–72 hours
- At least two out of these four: one-sided pain, throbbing pain, moderate-to-severe pain, and pain that interferes with, is worsened by, or prohibits routine activity
- At least one associated feature: nausea and/or vomiting, or, if those are not present, then sensitivity to light and sound
These types of headaches are caused by inflammation of the blood vessels and arteries that wrap around the brain. Your body’s nervous system responds with a high stress response making you feel nausea, slowed intestinal absorption, increased blood pressure and increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli (smell, taste, hearing, vision).
Treatments for migraine is often based around avoiding the triggers for your headache but sometimes this isn’t sufficient and medication taken at the start of a migraine attack or as a preventative can help. Osteopathy can help the associated symptoms due to increased muscle and joint tension around the neck and shoulders.
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