Headaches and migraines are commonly reported in the UK. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), approximately 10 million people in the UK suffer from headaches, and around 8 million of those people suffer from migraines.
Migraines are more common in women than men, and they often begin during adolescence or early adulthood. Headaches, however, can affect people of all ages and genders.
Headaches and migraines can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, causing pain, and discomfort and sometimes interfering with daily activities.
Over the past 40 years, we have seen many patients with headaches and migraine at the Backcare and Acupuncture Clinics. Often patients describe headaches that they’ve suffered for over ten years and have simply learnt to live with them.
It’s essential to seek medical attention if you experience frequent or severe headaches or migraines. Your healthcare provider can diagnose the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment to help manage your symptoms.
What causes Headaches and Migraines?
Headaches can be caused by a variety of factors, including neck pain and poor posture. Osteopaths and physiotherapists are healthcare professionals who specialize in treating musculoskeletal conditions, including those that can contribute to headaches.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, and they typically involve a band-like pain around the head or pain in the neck and shoulders. Tension headaches are usually not severe, and they do not typically cause other symptoms like nausea or sensitivity to light or noise.
By assessing and treating the underlying musculoskeletal causes of a patient’s headaches, such as tension in the neck and shoulders or poor posture, stress and anxiety, an osteopath or physiotherapist can help alleviate the symptoms and prevent future episodes.
Migraine is different, often more severe and accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light and noises, as well as vision and balance problems. Migraines are extremely debilitating and can interfere with daily life.
Migraines are thought to be caused by a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors, and they are often triggered by certain foods, stress, changes in sleep patterns, and other factors.
Having assessed you, it is likely that your treatment plan would include acupuncture as well as ‘hands on’ treatment plus lifestyle changes.
In summary, we can say that headaches are caused by:
– Poor posture leading to inefficient movement patterns and pain
– ‘Chin poke’ or forward head carriage, which is strongly associated with seated working; it causes the muscles around the neck and tops of shoulders to be overused, leading to chronic tension, trigger points and headaches.
– Old traumas and joint wear and tear leading to chronic low level
– Joint inflammation and pain
– Dehydration and nutrition
– Stress and anxiety, which are often accompanied by changes in your breathing, perpetuate stress and anxiety
Our job at the Backcare and Acupuncture Clinics is to find out the exact cause of the headaches to get rid of them.
What are the Symptoms of Headache and Migraine?
Headache and migraine are two common types of pain that can affect the head and can be distinguished by their specific symptoms. Here are some of the common symptoms associated with headaches and migraine;
Symptoms of headache:
- Dull, aching pain or pressure on both sides of the head
- Pain that is mild to moderate in intensity
- Pain that is usually steady and persistent
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Tenderness in the scalp, neck, and shoulder muscles
- Nausea, vomiting, and dizziness (in some cases)
Symptoms of migraine:
- Moderate to severe throbbing or pulsing pain, usually on one side of the head
- Pain that is often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
- Visual disturbances such as flashing lights or blind spots (known as aura) that occur before or during the headache in some cases
- Tingling or numbness in the face or hands
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- Dizziness or loss of balance
It’s important to note that the symptoms of headaches and migraine can vary from person to person and may also vary in severity and frequency. If you experience frequent or severe headaches or migraines, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
How can I relieve my headaches and migraine at home?
There are several things you can try to relieve headaches and migraines at home:
Rest: Lie down in a quiet, dark room and try to relax.
Apply heat or cold: Place a warm or cold compress on your forehead or neck. Experiment to see which temperature works best for you.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and other fluids to prevent dehydration, which can trigger headaches.
Massage: Gently massage your temples, neck, and shoulders to relieve tension.
Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help you relax and reduce stress, which can trigger headaches.
Avoid triggers: Try to identify and avoid anything that triggers your headaches or migraines, such as certain foods, stress, or lack of sleep.
Take over-the-counter pain relief: Over-the-counter pain relief medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or paracetamol can help to alleviate mild to moderate headache pain. However, it is essential that you first seek advice as to your particular symptoms from your pharmacist or other health care provider. Always follow the dosage instructions and precautions listed on the packaging.
If your headaches or migraines persist or become more severe, you should seek medical attention from your healthcare provider.
It’s essential to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan for your headache or migraine.
Treatment options for headaches and migraine?
- Lifestyle modifications: Lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, avoiding trigger foods or situations, and reducing stress can help manage headaches and migraines.
- Complementary therapies: Alternative treatments like acupuncture, massage therapy, and herbal supplements may be used to manage migraines.
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of talk therapy that can help identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours that may contribute to migraines.
How does osteopathy help with Headaches and Migraines?
A lot of our patients are surprised and then relieved to learn that headaches can often arise from the neck area, and osteopathic treatment can help by working on the neck. Once your osteopath has made a thorough examination, you will be told what the cause of the headaches is and outline how to treat the headaches.
Treatment will involve spinal adjustments to the stiff areas in your neck to relieve pressure on the nerves and muscles, acupuncture to the inflamed muscles and trigger points, specific postural re-education to reduce any forward head carriage and guidance on how to better adapt your posture to your working environment. In addition, your practitioner will prescribe you exercises to strengthen the neck, lengthen your spine and introduce breathing advice to reduce stress – where appropriate.
How does acupuncture help with headaches and migraine?
After more than 40 years of practising acupuncture and having seen hundreds of patients with headaches and migraine, it is a delight to see solid research backing up any claim that acupuncture can help with headaches and migraine.
In a study published on June 22 in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, it was found that people who have chronic tension-type headaches can be helped with acupuncture.
“After two months of treatment, acupuncture may provide relief from chronic tension headaches for at least eight months”, said Dr. Ying Li, principal investigator of the study and professor at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
“Previous studies have found that acupuncture may be effective for episodic and chronic tension headaches but did not distinguish between the two. This study is one of the first to show that acupuncture is effective specifically for chronic tension headaches”, Li added.
Li and the study team analyzed the effect of 20 sessions of either true or superficial acupuncture on 218 people who had experienced chronic tension headaches for an average of 11 years and had 22 headache days a month.
By the end of the study, 68% of participants who received true acupuncture and 50% of participants who received superficial acupuncture reported a reduction in the number of headache days a month by at least half. The results are comparable to outcomes in clinical trials for medications, Whealy said”.
Acupuncture for Patients With Chronic Tension-Type Headache; neurology, October 04, 2022; 99(14) Research Article
How can I prevent Headaches and Migraines?
Preventing headaches and migraines may involve making some lifestyle changes and avoiding triggers that can contribute to their onset. Here are some tips that may help prevent headaches and migraines:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule: Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night and stick to a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration, which can trigger headaches.
- Eat a balanced diet: Avoid skipping meals and consume a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Identify and avoid triggers: Keep a headache diary to track what triggers your headaches, such as certain foods, stress, or lack of sleep, and try to avoid them.
- Manage stress: Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress levels.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help reduce stress and tension, which can trigger headaches.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol: Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can contribute to headaches and migraines, so it’s best to consume them in moderation.
- Consider preventative medication: If you have frequent migraines, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to prevent them.
By following these steps, you can reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines. However, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan for your headache or migraine.
When should I worry about headaches and migraines?
Headaches and migraines are common, and most of the time, they are not a cause for concern. However, there are some warning signs that indicate you should seek medical attention immediately.
- Here are some situations when you should worry about headaches and migraines;
- Sudden onset of severe headaches: If you experience a sudden, severe headache, especially if it’s the worst headache of your life, seek emergency medical attention.
- Headaches after head injury: If you have a head injury and you experience headaches, seek medical attention.
- Headaches with a fever, neck stiffness, or rash: These symptoms may indicate a serious condition like meningitis, and you should seek medical attention immediately.
- Headaches with vision changes or speech difficulties: These symptoms may indicate a stroke, and you should seek medical attention immediately.
- Headaches with weakness or numbness in one side of the body: These symptoms may indicate a stroke, and you should seek medical attention immediately.
- Headaches that interfere with daily activities: If your headaches or migraines interfere with your daily activities, it’s essential to seek medical attention.
- New onset of headaches in people over 50 years of age: If you are over 50 years old and experience new-onset headaches, you should seek medical attention.
In summary, if you experience any sudden or severe headache or have additional symptoms, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Your healthcare provider can diagnose the underlying cause and recommend the appropriate treatment.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What happens during my initial consultation?
Our priority upon your arrival is to ensure that you feel welcome, comfortable, and well-informed about your appointment. Typically, your initial consultation will last between 45 minutes to an hour. One of our experienced osteopaths will meet you and begin by attentively listening to you. We will inquire about your general health, any current pain you may be experiencing, your medical history, medications you may be taking, and review any medical examination results.
After this initial discussion, we may conduct specific tests to make a diagnosis. You may be asked to perform some gentle movements to allow us to evaluate your posture and mobility.
Using this important information, we will then create a personalized treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs.
What will happen AFTER an initial consultation?
During your second visit to our clinic, we will provide a detailed explanation of our findings from your history and examination. By the end of this session, you will be able to answer several crucial questions, including:
- What is causing my symptoms?
- What are the available treatment options?
- How long is the expected recovery time?
- How much treatment will be necessary based on your personalized treatment plan?
- How much will your treatment cost?
- What can I do to help myself?
- What changes do I need to make to get better, faster?
We take the time to explain and clarify the causes of your symptoms and what can be done to alleviate them. At this stage, we will have created a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
What can I expect after my first treatment?
The response to treatment varies from person to person, as everyone is unique. The initial treatment is a crucial step in gauging the patient’s reaction to treatment and determining the best course of action to meet their individual needs.
Immediate relief may be experienced by some patients after the first session, while others may require multiple sessions to see significant progress. It’s vital for patients to realize that treatment is not a one-time fix and that it may take a number of sessions to achieve long-term results, particularly for chronic issues or long-standing musculoskeletal imbalances.
Is treatment painful?
The treatments themselves are not painful, but there might be some discomfort after the spinal manipulation as your body adjusts to the treatment and improved posture. This can result in stiffness in certain regions, which is a natural occurrence, and we recommend using an ice pack on the area for 10 minutes after your session and staying hydrated.
What causes the cracking sound during the treatment?
The cracking or popping sound heard during an osteopathic treatment is caused by the release of nitrogen gas from the joints. This is a normal and common occurrence and may not always happen depending on the technique used. The sound itself is neither significant or important to your progress.
What is the cost of the initial consultation?
The initial consultation is priced at £65, which comprises a thorough spinal evaluation including muscle and nerve testing, orthopaedic examination, as well as posture and movement analysis.
What is the cost of the each treatment?
Each treatment is £45 if you pay as you go. However, we do have discount options available depending on what works best for you.
What days and times are you open?
Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm,
Saturday – 8am – 2pm
Sunday – closed
How long will it take for me to feel better?
The length of time it will take to start to feel better varies a good deal between patients. This difference is based on several factors, including the how long you’ve had the problem and how severe it’s become, your lifestyle and demands of work and family as well as your individual capacity to respond to treatment.
Generally, patients with acute conditions (recent onset) may experience significant improvement within a few sessions, while those with chronic conditions (your symptoms have been present for more than 12 weeks) may require more treatment sessions to attain long-lasting outcomes.
The secrets to getting well are to always turn up for your treatment, follow the guidance of your practitioner and get involved in your own recovery. Don’t delegate your health to your practitioner. It is always a partnership!
What happens if I miss an appointment?
We recognize that we all have busy lives beyond the Backcare and Acupuncture Clinics, but please let us know as soon as possible if you are unable to keep your appointment, and we will make every effort to reschedule it for you. We will make every effort to accommodate your particular schedule