Headache pains can have many origins. From tension headaches due to muscles, to vascular headaches due to high blood pressure, neuralgia or migraine. Headache pains need to be very well diagnosed so it can be treated with efficiency.
This type of headache is very often related to stress, but stress isn't always the reason!
Tension in different groups of muscles directly attached on the skull can cause headaches.
An important actor is the trapeze muscle, as it is attached to the shoulder blades and the base of the skull. Any unfortunate upper back, head or shoulders postures, efforts or stress can cause tension in this muscle.
Another important actor in tension headaches are the muscles in the jaw. When patients bite during the night, keep a tight jaw during the day or have an orthodontic treatment, the temporal muscle most often tenses up and puts a lot of pressure on the cranial bones (forehead, temples).
As most of muscles are palpable and treatable structures, osteopathy can be very efficient to release them and so, diminish the symptoms of this type of headaches.
Headaches caused by nerve pressure
This type of headache is called a neuralgia. It means that a nerve in the neck/head region is suffering and therefore causes pain.
A neuralgia can have different origins. It can be caused by compressed nerves, inter vertebral discs or bones deformations/misplacement. It can also be a secondary pain due to another ailment such as a cranial or a neck trauma, inter cranial pathology, chemical substances (fx. drugs or food), ENT disease or psychological issues.
One common neuralgia is the Arnold headache. It is caused by pressure on the occipital nerve which has its origin in between the first three neck vertebras. This nerve passes by a multitude of muscle layers, before climbing up on the head and it then runs all the way to the eye. This common headache gives a typical eye pain and superficial headache.
Osteopathy is also very efficient against neuralgia by releasing the different groups of muscles, but also decompressing and mobilizing the upper neck segment.
Migraines are quite often confused with tension headaches. Please read carefully the following to understand if you have real migraines or not.
Migraines are defined by:
- throbbing pain
- pain in half of the head
- nausea (feels like you are going to vomit)
- gets worse during an effort
- aura (sensible to light or sounds)
- lasts 4 to 72 hours (where tension type can be 30 minutes)
Studies show that migraines are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. 2/3 of all people with migraine, has a family member who also suffers from migraines.
For many years, we have been thinking that migraines were caused by a dilatation of blood vessels but recent studies show that this dilation is not the cause but a consequence of the migraine.
Migraine is coming from neurological problems. Like I was mentioning in the previous paragraph, nerves can be irritated by different factors (mechanics, chemistry, psychology) and osteopathy has a wide range of techniques to work on each one of these.
The influence of food on our body chemistry
The food we eat influences the pH of our blood. The more acidic the blood is, the more inflammatory reactions are created.
And what is acidity? It is protons (H+). Unfortunately, we find a lot of protons in carbohydrates.
A diet based on carbs (wheat flour, milk, candies, alcohol, etc.) will release a lot of protons in our blood and therefore trigger micro inflammations in our nervous system which can cause a migraine.
Osteopathy is a holistic approach. Of course we check the body and its interconnections but being holistic means that we also try to get an understanding of the patient´s whole environment (food, exercise, sleep patterns, etc.) and how this might have an influence on his/her symptoms and pains.