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Connolly Osteopathy

Osteopathy and Medical Acupuncture
Pregnancy and Post Natal Therapy
Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Surrey and South London Osteopath

Phone: 07453 128 759

Headache and Migraine conditions

Headaches and migraines are common debilitating conditions. Their impact on the individual and to society is often underestimated with headache disorders collectively having a prevalence of 90% and the World Health Organisation (WHO) now ranking migraines as a leading cause of disability worldwide.
Many headache and migraine conditions  can be managed by conventional medical practices however, for some patients headaches can severely impact their lives for years. There are varying types of headaches as well as migraines some more common than others and with varying severity. The most common of al headache conditions being a tension headache.
Headaches with an abrupt onset and vomiting, photophobia, leg or neck pain should be regarded as an emergency.
The patient should seek expert medical opinion with a neurologist or A & E unit.

Headache types

​Sinus headaches are a direct result of sinusitis. Sinusitis is caused by infection of one or more of the cranial (skull) sinuses. These are the bony inner structures of the skull. The site of the pain varies depending the location of the infection. Maxillary sinus pain is mostly in the cheek and upper jaw areas. When pain is between and around the eyes it is referred to as ethmoidal sinusitis. Frontal sinus pain is located on the forehead. The pain often has a dull aching quality which is worsened by bending.​
Another facial headache presentation is trigeminal neuralgia. Trigeminal neuralgia is considered to be the most common neurological syndrome in the elderly. The pain is often described as an electric shock, spasm or burning sensation in one or more of the three divisions of the trigeminal nerve. The pain lasts from 2-120 seconds. The ophthalmic division supplies the forehead, eyes and scalp, the maxillary supplies the cheek and the mandibular supplies the lower cheek, lower lip and chin.

Tension headaches (or muscle contraction headaches) are usually low impact. Typically this headache type is mild to moderate only, non-pulsating and bilateral. Tension headaches often arise due to prolongued postural problems causing the shortening of the posterior neck muscles. This causes a pull on the skulls fascial tissue and results in tension pain around the forehead. This type of headache is commonly seen in clinic and is easily remedied through treatment and cooperation with your practitioner.
Low grade tension headaches can result from temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Possible causes include new dental fillings which may unbalance the bite, grinding the teeth (Bruxism) and continued stress can initiate and exacerbate the pain.
Cluster headaches are an excruciating condition characterised by frequently recurrent, short lasting intense pain around the eye. The pain occurs in bouts (clusters), is strictly unilateral and develops once or more daily, commonly at night. The affected eye is red and waters, the nose runs or is blocked on the same side, and ptosis (droopy eyelid) may occur. The recurrent onset can become chronic and is more common in smokers.

Migraines

Migraines are a severe headache type and can have a detrimental impact on the life of sufferers. The main part of the classification is concerned with the headache phase of the attack. A Migraine normally has two or more of the following symptoms:
  • Unilateral (on one side)
  • Pulsating
  • Moderate to severe
  • Aggravated by routine activities
However, some patients will also have reversible sensory symptoms in the hour preceding the migraine. These symptoms are known as aura and often include visual changes, such as zigzag lines or scotoma (holes in the vision). Other symptoms include dizziness or swaying, numbness and “word salading” (words being mixed up). 
Migraines are often triggered by one of more factors, some of which are enviromental, some hormonal and more commonly some are triggered by foods are particular ingredients. If you are prone to migraines it is advised to keep a diary of potential factors which may cause them to trigger.

How can osteopathy help headaches?

Given the variety of presentations each type of headache would need to be fully diagnosed through the patient's case history, examination and if required further investigation such as imaging. By looking at potential tissue causing symptoms, environmental and nutritional factors your practitioner can advise both a treatment and management plan to help reduce the affecting factors. 
​Uncommon but potentially serious symptoms
Related articles:
Call NHS direct on 111 if you experience symptoms such as:
  • Rapid onset headache with vomiting
  • Headache or migraine symptoms with neck or leg pain
  • Unusual rash which doesn't whiten when pressed by a glass
  • Facial numbness or drooping of facial muscles
  • Slurred speech 
  • Headache with pain radiating along neck and arm