Can a Massage Help with my Headaches?
Posted on 2nd July 2020 at 10:00
You’ve probably experienced a time in your life where you’ve been stopped in your tracks by a headache. Headaches can be very short lived or more chronic causing pain and major disruption to your everyday life.
What is a ‘headache’?
When we experience a headache, it’s actually us experiencing the symptom of a pain in the head, face, or neck. This primary pain can range from very mild, a dull ache to a sharp persistent pain that lasts for days at a time.
Usually headaches are not as a sign of anything serious but can be caused by a variety of factors such as environmental, lifestyle, or pre-existing medical disorders.
During a headache the nerves, blood vessels and other sounding soft tissues will tighten, which stimulates the nerves and sends signals of pain to the brain which causes pain. There are many different types of headaches below are some of the most common.
Probably the most common type of headache, also known as a muscle contraction headache. Tension-type headaches are very common, short lived are typically mild and can be treated using over-the-counter medications. However, if the primary cause of tension is not resolved you’ll often find the headache will return and over time secondary musculoskeletal pain may be felt in the back of the head and neck muscles.
This is a result of referred secondary pain and muscle tension.
Pain experienced with a tension headache is usually a pressure feeling on both sides of the head with a dull, aching persistent pain. Discomfort around the temples and eyes is also common during a tension headache.
Migraines or vascular headaches
Vascular headaches are usually a lot more severe and longer lasting than a tension headache and is characterised by a pounding feeling:
The most common types of migraines are:
Classic migraine. Also known as the “migraine with aura,” this is responsible for around a quarter of all migraines and is characterised by pain that is preceded by blurred vision, seeing flashing lights, and hearing noises that are not present.
Aura-less common migraine. Migraines without aura can present as throbbing pain on one side of the head, light sensitivity, and nausea and/or vomiting may accompany head pain. This type of migraine could also cause the eyes and nose to run on the side of the head with pain. Unlike the classic migraine, pain with this type of migraine is longer lasting and often more severe.
Cluster headache. Affecting more men than woman, the main symptom of a cluster headache is severe pain in one side of the head often felt around the eye which will radiate into the head, neck, and shoulders. Cluster headaches are more likely to occur during the evening, and usually start with little or no warning. A cluster headache can be persistent often lasting several weeks or months at a time with headaches being intermittent during this time and can disappear as quickly as they came. Although the exact cause of cluster headaches is unclear, they can often be triggered by alcohol intake, certain foods, hormonal changes, and stress.
Can massage therapy help with my headaches?
Both tension headaches and migraines can be effectively managed by regular massage therapy. Massage therapy focusing on the head neck and shoulders is not only very relaxing which can help elevate stress, it increases blood flow, loosens tight muscles and helps balance out your hormones in particular reducing your cortisol levels which is our stress hormone.
As a lot of people suffering with persistent headaches often take over the counter or prescribed painkillers to help, massage therapy offers a non-evasive and non- pharmacological approach to managing the symptoms and causes of headaches. The benefits of this is that as a long term option it reduces the need for long term and prolonged drug use.
Let us know if you’re suffering from headaches, as we may well be able to help. Your Fire & Earth therapist will undertake a detailed consultation with you prior to any treatment. This is to devise a suitable treatment plan and where needed can liaise with your other health practitioners to provide you with a multi-disciplinary treatment program.
Alongside your treatments with your therapist, we can provide you with tailored exercises and self-massage techniques if suitable.
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