The most prevalent type of head ache is the tension type head ache (TTHA), and may affect up to 70% of people during their lifetime. The TTHA can also coexist with migraines, and the symptoms may be very similar. The tension from headaches may also derive from the base of your skull where it meets the neck – this is also referred to as a cervicogenic head ache.
Osteopaths will take a detailed history of your head aches and assess other areas which are often linked to TTHA. We may see that there is an existing TMJ (jaw) problem such as grinding of teeth or clicking when eating, and we may see lots of tension in the neck, shoulder and upper back muscles. The sensation of pain that you experience in a TTHA which may also mimic a migraine, may be caused by muscular over strain due to poor posture in the neck and shoulders – causing trigger points in muscles which then refer pain in specific patterns to your head. The TTHA/cervicogenic head ache may also be caused by facet joint problems, neuralgia (nerve irritation) or TMJ disorders.
It is important, especially where headaches are new to get professional such as osteopath to assess and diagnose that the headaches / migraine are musculoskeletal or neurogenic in origin. That way any further investigations from a medic can be sought at the earliest opportunity.
Once tension is diagnosed in the muscles and any untoward cause of your headaches is ruled out, massage is an excellent way to work on tension in the tissues to reduce and manage the source of your headaches.