Many patients seek massage therapy treatments due to headaches. In fact, many people will indicate they suffer from migraine headaches when in fact they do not have the symptoms indicative of migraines. It is important to identify the type of headache your patient is experiencing in order to come up with the most effective treatment plan. Here are three common headaches, their symptoms and recommended treatments:
A migraine headache is caused by a response in the nerves and blood vessels resulting from certain triggers. This results in a very painful unilateral headache. This is one of the most common discerning symptoms as it is very distinct in migraines. Unlike other headaches, migraines also cause a reaction from a patient’s autonomic nervous system which can result in vomiting, nausea, light sensitivity and sweating. The symptoms tend to last for 72 hours and occur as follows:
- Aura appears in the form of a visual disturbance as a warning sign the headache is approaching
- Headache appears
- Nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity
- Emotional signs such as sadness or anger
Treatment: Recommended therapy for migraines includes working on the Palate. This can be a little awkward for patients however it can be very effective if your patient is willing to give it a try. This approach addresses bony mobility as opposed to soft tissue and uses touch and pressure to alleviate areas of bony resilience to relieve or change the pain. It works on the trigeminal nerve to open vascular drains. A less invasive approach is the External Acoustic Meatus Technique. Aligned with the meatus and adjacent to it within the petrous portion of the temporal bone are the carotid canal and the internal carotid artery. Because they supply blood to the cerebral hemispheres, eyes, and forehead by freeing the temporal bones you can relieve migraines. You can also work with the eyes and jaw to extend the release in these areas.
2. Tension Headaches
As the name implies tension causes headaches as patients suffer from muscle contractions and trigger points. It is often referred pain caused by everything from neck aches to TMJ issues. Symptoms of tension headaches can vary but will generally involve the following:
- Pain on both sides of the head
- Vice like pain
- Varied severity in pain based on the causes
- Some autonomic responses based on the cause of the headache
Treatments: Using your fingertips to move the cranial layers against each other and against the skull can relieve pain in the face, neck and eyes. Deep transverse pressure will allow you to assess and release issues such as pulls, thickenings and adhesions. You can also work either side of the nuchal ligament under the occipital ridge to encourage the musculature and soft tissue on either side of the ligament to make more room for the smaller muscles in the suboccipital space.
3. Medicine Induced Headaches
There are many medicines that can cause headaches. These headaches are common in patients who are taking birth control pills, blood thinners, medications containing caffeine, heart and blood medications and hormone replacement therapies. Symptoms of these headaches typically include:
- Pain on both sides of the head
- Throbbing pain
- Pain comes and goes
Treatment: Hydration can help reduce the occurrence of headaches caused by medications. Massage therapy that works well for these headaches are the same as those used for tension headaches and discussing how the treatment is working will help you add further treatments you feel will prove effective.
Helping patients resolve pain related to headaches can make a positive impact on their life.