How can Osteopathy help with Headaches?
Most people don’t think of seeing the osteopath when they have a headache, but with more than 70% of some populations reporting that they suffer from tension-type headaches, osteopathic manual therapy might be just what’s needed to address the cause of the problem.
Osteopathy involves manipulation of joints, bones and tissues to re-establish balance and function to the body, including the head!
When there is a mechanical imbalance that the body can’t effectively adapt to, this can manifest in headaches. Additionally, while headache disorders are typically managed with medication, osteopathy can provide effective management and treatment for headaches without the need to resort to medication, which fail to address the cause of the issue and often come with a range of undesirable side-effects.
Tension-type headaches are characterised by pressure or tightness. People often describe it as feeling like a band around their head that can radiate into their neck, and can often be associated with mild nausea or dizziness.
Tension-type headaches are very often caused by teeth grinding and clenching, as well as tightness in the neck and shoulders, two presentations highly related to stress!
Osteopathy can help headaches on a variety of levels. As part of my practice, I often work to ease muscle tightness and tension for my patients, helping to improve the function of their joints, and help with drainage and blood flow of the head.
On a physiological level, this can also help to reduce inflammation, thereby alleviating some of the proinflammatory molecules associated with migraine. Lastly, through my practice I often find that we can alleviate headaches by addressing the effect of stress. Through hands-on treatment we can help stimulate the vagus nerve, which plays many important roles including regulation of the autonomic nervous system (this helps us move from a state of stress to one of relaxation) and reducing sensitivity to painful stimuli.
Headaches can have a real impact on quality of life and sometimes be quite disabling. Tension-type headaches can often become a vicious cycle where the tension causes the headache and the headache exacerbates the tension.
I love being able to interrupt that cycle and help my patients get back to enjoyment and ease in their lives.
Please reach out if you would like to explore how osteopathy can help with your headache.
Jennie Yiu - Osteopath, M.Ost., (UK), PGCert Paeds, GOSc (UK)