Saturday December 21, 2019 at 4:44pm

Headaches can be generally divided into two categories; primary or secondary. These categories are umbrella terms for the following:

  • Primary: tension-type headache, cluster headache, migraine (with or without aura), hormonal headache
  • Secondary: related to an underlying medical condition, medication overuse headache, dehydration headache, sinusitis.

    It is important to consult a medical professional in order to identify the type of headache that you are experiencing and therefore, receive the appropriate treatment intervention.

The most common headache origin that osteopaths encounter is a cervicogenic headache; otherwise known as the tension-type headache. This is a headache category related to mechanical issues with the joints and connective soft tissues surrounding the head and neck.

It is a very common problem, as the stress and strains of modern life can be related to tension-type headaches. Stress, tension, strain to the neck and upper back structures, computer/desk-based work, whiplash and altered postures can all have a part to play.

These factors can put mechanical strain on the joint, muscle and nerve structures surrounding the neck. Patients often describe these headaches as a feeling of a “tight band” ranging from the back of the neck and head, which can move towards the forehead.

How can osteopathy help?
Osteopathic treatment aims to help to reduce the tightness of muscles, relieve the pressure on the joints of the neck and/or jaw and decompress the irritation of the associated nerves. The treatment may involve soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation and manipulation and stretching techniques. Additionally, home advice is commonly given, such as exercises.

A migraine is a complex condition, which is believed to be of either a neurological or a vascular cause. A wide variety of symptoms can present, which vary from person-to-person. These symptoms include intense pain that is often one-sided, visual disturbance (such as altered vision or sensitivity to light), nausea and sinus pain.

Common triggers can include stress, certain foods, caffeine, alcohol, hormonal changes and disrupted sleep. Despite the knowledge that migraines are not directly caused by neck tension, research has shown that neck muscular tension is a common associated symptom in migraine patients (Luedtke et al, 2018).

Although we cannot claim to treat the neurological or vascular cause, osteopathic treatment can involve a wide variety of soft tissue techniques that may help to relieve muscular tension that is present. This treatment can be used alongside other common medical interventions such as, prescribed migraine medications and stress management methods (e.g. mindfulness techniques).

References Luedtke, Mehnert, May. (2018). Altered muscle activity during rest and during mental or physical activity is not a trait symptom of migraine - a neck muscle EMG study. J Headache Pain. 2018; 19(1): 26.



For more information please contact our Osteopaths - we are
happy to help you

» Categories: Stephanie Lawton, Headaches


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Rugby Osteopathic Centre, 69 Albert Street, Rugby
Warwickshire, CV21 2SN, Tel: 01788 560646, Fax:01788 571318
Email: reception@rugbyosteopaths.co.uk