I really enjoy treating a wide variety of injuries; however I take a special interest in the treatment of headaches and migraines. I believe Osteopathy has the potential to help with the musculoskeletal implications which occur from headaches or migraines, but I also think it’s crucial to identify other lifestyle factors which contribute to chronic recurrences, as it is often not possible to completely eradicate headaches without making some changes to the things we regularly do. There are many factors which contribute to headaches or migraines; including poor posture, stress, poor sleep quality, imbalanced diet, medication/s, lack of appropriate exercise and hormonal imbalances.
I recently had a patient presenting with chronic headaches which had become more frequent over the years, to the point where she was getting them on a daily basis. Upon examination I found her to be extremely tight in her neck and upper back musculature, as well as being very stiff through her upper neck joints and TMJ (jaw). I thought she may get some good relief from treatment but that it could only be temporary unless we identified causative triggers in her life. I worked out that this particular patient had been going through a lot of stress, and thus was not sleeping well and was developing very poor posture, particularly at work. She was also clenching and grinding her teeth at night which I believe was contributing hugely to her headache. We made numerous changes to her daily routine including changing her work station and car seat set up, referring her back to her dentist who fitted her with a night splint to prevent grinding, increasing her exercise and introducing yoga and meditation into her routine.
These changes were combined with osteopathic treatment to improve joint mobility and reduce muscular hypertonicty in the upper neck muscles and TMJ. These small changes made a significant difference to her headaches, and by combining this with manual treatment, within a few weeks her headache frequency was reduced to one every 3-4 weeks. In this case, managing stress levels and teeth grinding were the main triggers, but every case is different and I always recommend keeping a headache diary to identify the triggers.