Treatment for Frequent and Chronic Headaches
An area of particular interest to me over the last few years has been the treatment of chronic head pain. As I treat more and more people with head pain, I'm continually surprised by the effectiveness of myofascial release for these patients. I see patients whose headaches fall into three broad categories:
Migraine headaches are characterized by severe, debilitating pain, and are often accompanied by visual disturbances and auras. Migraine sufferers often experience pre-headache symptoms, as well. They can be brought on by a number of different stimuli including light, sounds, smells, chemicals, etc. Many women experience migraines that are linked to monthly hormonal shifts.Migraines are complicated and treating them can be a real challenge. Treatment typically consists of medications which have varying degrees of effectiveness and often come with undesirable side-effects.
Tension or stress headaches typically originate in the muscles of the upper back and neck. This type of headache usually feels like it comes from the outside of the skull and frequently feels like one's head is in a vise. Neck pain and/or TMJ pain commonly accompany this type of head pain.
Sinus headaches are frequently felt in the forehead, behind the eyes, and in the cheekbones. Sometimes the teeth in the upper jaw can be painful or sensitive.
One of the reasons that headaches can be so hard to treat is that the source of the pain is not always in the head. Oftentimes, head pain is the result of long-term postural asymmetries, muscle imbalances, and immobility of the joints of the neck and cranium. Medications will not address any of these causes. They may provide temporary relief of symptoms, but never address the underlying causes.
In my experience, taking a broader view of the origins of headaches and employing an eclectic mix of manual techniques that addresses those causes, has been a recipe for success in battling chronic headaches.