Headaches: How can osteopathy help?
When a patient comes to see me complaining of headaches or migraines, I would consider several different aspects that may be the cause.
When you first come to visit an Osteopath, they would start by taking a detailed case history, in which we would ask questions on the symptoms of the headache, your lifestyle, your medical history and your general health. This case history helps us gain an idea of what your body might be going through and whether treatment would be appropriate for you.
More often than not, headaches can be caused by changes in your jaw, neck and upper back complex. In current times, we are spending more and more time sitting down. We sit at our desks for long periods, some of us drive for long periods and we look down at technology more often. These are having considerable affects on our spine and muscles.
This prolonged posture of sitting with our shoulders and neck protracted (hunched) affects the muscles of our neck, chest, upper back and even your jaw, causing them to become weak and tight. This posture also affects the joints of the spine, causing them to become restricted and compressed. Scarily, for every 2 inches that our head flexes forward, approximately 20lb of weight is added through our body! When these restrictions and muscle imbalances affect the top 3 vertebrae in the neck, they can cause headaches.
Similarly, our jaw plays a part in headaches. If the muscles that connect the jaw to the skull that are used for chewing, aren’t balanced with the alignment of our teeth, then it can cause inflammation and changes to the joint, face or head.
So that’s why osteopathy can help relieve headaches from a muscular-skeletal perspective. We can help relax and stretch the muscles that have become tight. We can free the spinal and jaw restrictions and advise on strengthening exercise for your spine and upper back. We can also use gentle techniques to the skull that may help relieve the symptoms of headaches.
Headaches can be caused by several different medical reasons such as, hormonal, heart related, neurological etc. If our initial case history shows anything that may be considered a red flag, then we would refer you back to your GP.
Please feel free to contact me to discuss whether osteopathy is right for you.