Why see an osteopath for a headache?
Some headaches have muscular, joint and postural aspects, and it makes sense that osteopaths would be good at treating them.
Other headaches have a more serious cause. If, at the end of your examination, I decide that osteopathy is not appropriate I will refer you back to your GP.
After taking a thorough case history and examination I aim to provide a diagnosis, and we can map out a treatment plan, with exercises and management advice. I am a member of the OPHM (Osteopaths for Progress in Headaches and Migraines) and I have undertaken specialised courses in diagnosing and treating headaches, as well as extensive study into this challenging but fascinating topic.
Muscular pain in the neck, shoulders and scalp can cause headaches and osteopaths have a range of techniques and approaches to tackle the immediate problem as well as longer term habits and postural causes.
Osteopathy can help with the prevention of migraines and I can offer lifestyle advice and coping strategies based on the latest guidelines. Please do not come to the clinic if you are in the middle of a migraine attack, I will be happy to reschedule for a better time.
Pain can be referred from the joints of the neck into the head and this may respond very well to osteopathic treatment, although it depends on how far any degeneration in the joints has progressed.
Case history: Sinus headaches?
Simon had been getting sinus headaches for years until his GP suggested some of the symptoms might be coming from his neck, and recommended he come and see me.
When I held his head and neck I could feel tension in the right shoulder muscles running up to the top of his neck and base of his skull. When I pressed a little harder here, it reproduced the pain he felt in his forehead. I worked gently into the muscles running up from the back into the neck and scalp, and gave some exercises to help with Simon’s shoulder posture.
After a few sessions the headaches had reduced significantly. He still gets sinus pain when he has a cold, but now that his head & neck can move more freely and aren’t providing an extra source of pain, the headaches do not occur during his normal daily life.
When NOT to see an osteopath
A severe, sudden-onset headache may signal a bleed in the brain or another serious (if rare) health issue. If it is accompanied by any loss of sensation, change in consciousness, or loss of regular body functions, call an ambulance.
Please also seek medical advice in the following situations:
- You have recently suffered trauma to the head.
- If you have a headache with a fever, or you feel unwell.
- If you are around 50 or over and this is your first headache ever.
- If you have had a familiar headache throughout your life but it changes in pattern, or becomes progressively worse.
- If your headache is accompanied by any unexplained symptoms e.g. visual disturbance, sudden loss of hearing, loss of balance, changes in bowel or bladder, or other symptoms.
Osteopathy is not appropriate for cluster headaches (although some patients may seek osteopathic treatment for injuries that occurred during an attack). Please speak to your GP for medical management of cluster headaches.
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