It is very rare to meet someone who can say they have never had a headache. For many, headaches can even become a cause of chronic pain and they are thought to affect at least ¾ of the general population on a regular basis.
Headaches can occur for many reasons, a history of injuries such as a fall, concussion and motor vehicle accidents are very common but can occur in the absence of trauma due to stress, tension and poor posture.
Tension-type headaches are the most common type of headaches making up almost ½ of all headaches. The pain is usually mild to moderate and feels like a constant pressure. This pain is felt to the front of the face or to the head and neck. It is often felt on both sides and may feel as if a belt is being tightened around the head. The nerves of the head, neck and shoulder regions can become hyper-excitable and add to the pain felt while trigger points, commonly called “knots” occur in the muscles. These points are tender to the touch and when “active” cause referral pain that can travel into the head causing the headache.
Cervicogenic headaches occur due to dysfunction in the neck. Pain if often felt on one side of the head at the base of skull, behind the eyes, or the forehead. You will also often experience neck stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Pain is often aggravated by neck movements and poor posture. In these types of head aches the joints, muscles and ligaments are responsible for the pain felt. Because of this massage alone may not be enough to rid you of your headaches. Chiropractor adjustments may also be necessary to help maintain correct spinal position while the massage will help to prevent the muscles from pulling the bones back out of alignment
MASSAGE can be done on a preventative basis to relieve the chance of a Headache ever happening and can also be done in a comfort role to ease the pressure felt.
What a treatment will look like?
Treatment will focus on the upper back, shoulder blades, upper chest wall, neck, head and potentially even the muscles of the jaw. Special attention is often paid to the suboccipital region at the base of the skull due to its importance in stress, tension and posture. Relaxation is also very important in treating headaches with the hope of a good night sleep to aid in recovery and prevention. Muscle stripping to the neck muscles, trigger point release methods and myofascial release are often necessary to help relieve the specific pain points and muscle tension that are responsible for the headache pain. A review of good posture and ergonomic positioning as well self-care exercises is important in headache treatment, recovery and prevention.
Research has shown that massage can:
- Decrease occurrences of tension headaches including frequency, intensity and duration
- Sleep disturbances, distress symptoms and perceived pain decrease
- Allows one to maintain a level of relaxation and stress-relief, reducing the chances of stress induced headaches
- Massage for headaches can also reduce muscle spasms, tension and trigger points
- Reduce depression and/or anxiety
- Decrease medication usage
- Increase range of cervical motion
Other causes of headaches
Knowing the source of your headaches is extremely important. Tracking patterns in when your headaches occur and for how long they last will help you to identify your personal triggers. Poor sleep, hormonal imbalances and food sensitivities are other common causes of headaches.