There is usually no need to seek medical advice if you experience occasional, relatively mild headaches. However, if you experience regular headaches, or have a new onset of headaches, experience a new change in headache pattern or have a headache that is suddenly more severe it is important to seek advice from your GP to be sure there is not an underlying medical cause. The following link is from the NHS and highlights specific signs & symptoms that indicate a need to seek medical advice: NHS Headaches
Headaches have many different causes. Broadly they can be categorised as primary or secondary types. Primary headaches have no underlying cause and examples are migraine, cluster or tension headaches. The tension type headache is the most common type. It usually affects both sides of the head and can feel like a tight band, sometimes like a pressure behind the eyes. Sometimes neck and shoulder muscles can feel tight as well. Headaches can last 30 minutes to several hours. Secondary headaches have an underlying cause that can be non-harmful, for example cervicogenic or arising from the neck, or have a more serious underlying medical cause.
Most types of headaches are non-harmful and once the cause has been identified, they can often be helped by simple lifestyle changes.
Some Common Daily Causes of Headaches:
- Poor sleep
- Problems with mattress or pillows
- Stress & tension
- Cervicogenic headaches
- Eye strain
- Poor posture
- Irregular meals
- Excess alcohol
- Menstrual cycle
- Medication overuse or rebound headaches
- An illness such as cold or flu
How can osteopathy help?
Osteopathy can help with symptoms of headaches arising from problems occurring in the neck - referred to as cervicogenic headaches. This type of headache arises from the joints, muscles and nerves at the top of the neck. Symptoms are usually one sided and refer from the neck to the back of the head – sometimes to the forehead or around one eye. They can be aggravated by neck movement and posture and last for varying periods of time. After careful assessment, treatment may involve gentle stretching and mobilising of the muscles and joints in the neck as well as the shoulders and thoracic spine which can also contribute to the problem.
The NICE Guidelines also suggest the option of a course of acupuncture for tension-type headaches that last 15 days or more in a month, as well as for the prevention of migraine if pharmacological options are unsuitable or do not help. At Oaklea Osteopathy in Chelmsford this is something that experienced osteopath Amanda Miles can help with as she is trained to use dry needling or medical acupuncture where appropriate as part of her treatments. Please click here for more information about acupuncture offered at Oaklea Osteopathy Oaklea Osteopathy Dry Needling
At Oaklea Osteopathy in Chelmsford treatment is always individually tailored depending on your diagnosis and other factors such as age, general health and fitness. Treatment is carefully chosen to reduce pain, improve mobility, and improve function. If there are exercises or stretches which may help you, you will receive a personalised programme to help your recovery. You will also be advised about any lifestyle or postural changes that may help prevent a recurrence of your symptoms.
As with other conditions, if Amanda feels there is a need to refer you back to your GP for further investigations or tests, that will always be discussed with you first.
NHS – Tension Headaches
NHS - Tension Headache Information
NICE Guidelines For Tension Headaches
Migraine trust - Headache Information