Woman with headache

Do you suffer from headaches? If so help is at hand!

Over one in five people in the uk are affected by regular headaches yet most of the patients that i see in clinic are often surprised when they find out that there is a lot that can be done to help.

There are over a 150 different types of headache but the vast majority of headaches fall into three different categories. So which type of headache do you experience?

The Big Three!

Migraines

Most people have heard of migraines but what causes them is still a mystery. They are thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity temporarily affecting nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain but a lot more research needs to be done before they are fully understood.
The pain can be quite severe, usually on one side of the head, which is pulsating in nature and is commonly felt behind the eye. There are a plethora of associated symptoms such as nausea, light sensitivity, aura (where patients see disorientating flashing lights) as well as sensory changes.
They can be hugely debilitating, as an ex sufferer myself most people find that just retreating to a dark quiet room and sleep is the best course of action. The first step in migraine care is to get an accurate diagnosis. I see many patients who have been misdiagnosed and respond very well to osteopathic care when they thought nothing could be done.

Cervico-genic

Cervico-genic literally translated means ‘of the neck’. You may be experiencing pain in the head but the actual cause will be originating from a dysfunction in the neck. This will then cause referred pain which will feel very much like a headache. The pain can be anywhere on the head but is commonly felt above one eye and can be pulsating in nature much like a migraine often leading to them being misdiagnosed. Thankfully they are very easily treatable, once we have treated the neck issue the head pain usually subsidies very quickly.

Tension Type Headaches

These are by far the most common type of headache experienced accounting for over 85% of all headaches. As the name suggest they are the result of tension from the muscles and joints of the head and neck. They are usually not too debilitating and most people find they can carry on with their daily activities. However In the worst of cases the headaches can occur daily which can really affect peoples quality of life.
The pain is felt on both sides of the head and can be felt at the back of the the head to above the eyes. patients often complain of a band like pressure across the forehead.
Triggers include lifestyle, desk work, road traffic accidents, and stress. Whilst there might not be much you can do about having to go to work the good news is they are very easily treatable. Once we have treated the head and neck and prescribed a few bespoke exercises to help you relieve the tension and pressure most patients find they feel much better very quickly.

And just to make things a little bit more complicated often patients can present with a combination of all of the above! There is one more headache that is less common but does occur and is useful to know.

Painkiller overuse headache! Over the counter medication can be useful in the short term but did you know that If overused painkillers can actually make your headache worse? It is not widely known but when you take painkillers for over 10 days in a row this can actually lead to a ‘painkiller overuse headache’. If you then try to stop taking the painkillers your headache will become even more severe leading to people reaching for the painkillers again and perpetuating the cycle even further. Once you have stopped taking the medication it can then takes weeks for the headaches to subside.
Interestingly people who take long term painkillers for non headache related conditions such as arthritis don’t tend to experience this side effect. If you suspect your headaches may be due to medication overuse then consult a healthcare professional who will advise you of the best way to proceed.

if you are struggling with an issue please just give us a call at the clinic or book online at the link below and we will do all we can to help!

Thanks for reading

Oliver

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