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Headaches

Our team of Osteopaths are keen to help people suffering with headaches.

We are aware that there are many causes and classifications of chronic headaches and migraines.

After a thorough consultation and examination based on current clinical guidelines (MIPCA and NICE Guidelines), we will aim to give you a diagnosis. At this point we can offer you a treatment plan with exercises and management advice. It may be that you need to be referred to another specialist depending on the type of headache that you have.

Treatment
Treatment

When to Seek Medical Help

Sinister headaches are rare but be aware: What follows is not a substitute for medical advice – seek urgent medical advice in the following situations:

Our team of Osteopaths are keen to help people suffering with headaches.

People with severe, sudden onset headaches which may signal bleeds in the brain or other major health issues are rare but urgent, fast-unfolding scenarios and should never go to an Osteopath as a first port of call.

If this is a first, worst, or a sudden onset “thunderclap” headache, or accompanied by any sensory loss or loss of regular body functions, or changes in consciousness, CALL AN AMBULANCE.

Persistent headache after a head injury requires medical screening (see www.nhs.uk/Conditions/concussion/Pages/introduction.aspx)

Seek medical advice also in the following situations:

• If you have a headache and have a high fever, or feel unwell

• If you are over 50 or around this age, and this is your first headache ever

• If your headache is different in nature from your regular ones and is accompanied by any unexplained symptoms e.g. visual disturbance, sudden loss of hearing, loss of balance, or other symptoms e.g. changes in bowel or bladder

• If you have had a familiar headache through your life and it changes in pattern, or it becomes progressively worse

Why see an Osteopath for Tension Headaches

Headache is more common than back pain, and some headaches are very debilitating, even tension-type headaches. It makes sense for osteopaths to become involved in reducing any pre-existing tensions in muscles and joints as these can predispose you to these headaches. In order to help prevent these often life-wrecking symptoms, we can make sure your muscles and joints are functioning optimally. We are also well-placed to give basic advice on your work station and other occupational and postural issues leading to strain on the neck and shoulders.

Conversely, headaches can themselves be the cause a lot of neck and shoulder pains, especially in the case of migraines and other complex headache conditions. This may be because a lot of pain is directly referred from irritated nerves in the head and face, for example, or through the sheer stress of coping with the pain levels and other debilitating symptoms of the headache or migraine.

Osteopathy can help reduce mechanical and stress-related tension by addressing strain throughout your musculoskeletal system using gentle hands-on manipulative techniques of all kinds (see home page). We also give you time to discuss and consider all options open to you, based on the latest scientific evidence.

Can Osteopathy Help Migraine Sufferers

The answer, very often, is a resounding yes. According to current guidelines (e.g. MIPCA – www.mipca.org.uk) and widely-held expert opinion, osteopaths are well-placed to help alleviate the suffering of patients with migraine. We can help with prevention, not acute treatment or cure. Migraine is considered by headache experts worldwide to be a type of inflammatory neurological condition, something which comes and goes. It is related to the genes in most people, so osteopaths have to work within current medical guidelines derived from current best scientific evidence and stick to migraine prevention (see above). Experience shows that this can be very helpful in reducing the severity and frequency of the attacks, whilst gold standard medical practice states that acute medication should be able to reduce the duration of your attack to a couple of hours, allowing you to resume normal activities. As with all human beings, however, every migraine is unique to the sufferer, and it may not be possible to help everyone with osteopathy, or indeed medication. It is a case of finding a tailor-made approach that suits each individual, and this takes time and perseverance from doctors, osteopaths and other practitioners.

Many migraine sufferers are too sensitive to even the best medication available to them (the triptans), or they may have worked for a time and then stopped helping; they may be pregnant, not wishing or too young to take them, and so manual medicine in general and osteopathy in particular, having such refined, gentle techniques in the therapeutic toolkit, has an important part to play in helping such sensitive people.

Medication Overuse Headache

If you are taking pills of any sort for a headache more than 10 days per month and this plan is not really working, the chances are your medication is actually causing a worsening of the headache over time. You may be suffering from medication overuse headache, and will need support while you come off the pills and review your medication with your GP or headache specialist.

In the case of migraine medication, this medication programme to break the cycle falls into two camps: acute and prevention medication. If you suffer from 8 migraines/month, you may be put on prevention medication (such as amitriptyline) for a time. We can help you use the four-question Migraine-ACT tool developed by a team of experts to see whether you are due for a medication review.

Questionnaires

Headache Impact Test HIT-6.pdf

The Migraine Disability Assessment Test MIDAS.pdf

The Migraine-ACT questionnaire Migraine-ACT_questionnaire.pdf

PedMIDAS PedMIDAS.pdf