Headaches are common. Approximately 80-90% of the population will suffer a headache at some stage of their life. But more than that, headaches can be a debilitating. Do you have a dull headache that sits in the background? Perhaps you get raging migraines that can affect vision and cause nausea.
When dealing with headaches, an important thing to remember is that headaches do vary. The cause and presentation of a headache may change. So treating a headache will need to be specific. Each person experiences pain differently. Headaches have many causes and triggers. The same type of a headache may need to be treated in different ways for different people. Also, different types of headaches need to be treated in different ways.
How do we know how to treat a headache then…?
Understanding the cause and type of a headache is essential when deciding the best treatment. Many headaches will respond well to stress reduction. You could try rest, breathing exercises, mindfulness, yoga or meditation. Various manual therapies may also help.
Some headaches respond to medication. Please consult your doctor or pharmacist when deciding on medication. There are also times when headaches can be indicative of more serious problems. If you suffer any new or ongoing headaches, consult with your health care professional. Serious health issues are best dealt with in emergency care settings. This acronym will help you recognise if your headache could be due to a stroke:
- Is the Face drooping?
- Can they lift both Arms?
- Speech - can they understand you? Is their Speech slurred?
- Time - Call 000
For headaches that do not require immediate medical care, try an Osteopath. Osteopaths in Australia register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Here is their website for more information https://www.ahpra.gov.au/
Osteopaths become qualified through university. Your Osteopath will conduct a thorough case history, examination and help to diagnose your headache. There are many treatment options you can discuss and try with your Osteopath. Soft tissue techniques, stretching and improving joint range of motion are some options. Osteopaths like advising you on ways to minimise re-aggravation of your symptoms. Your Osteopath will check your structural balance and function.
Keep in mind there is not one solution that covers treatment for every a headache. Work alongside your health care professional to help you to manage your headaches. Your health professional may suggest review with other health professionals. You may need your eyes or your teeth checked. You may need a neurologist or specialist.
Exercise is another way to manage your health and well being. Accredited Exercise Physiologists are health professionals that can also help. They can advise on the right type of exercise for you. They are university trained and registered with Exercise and Sports Science Australia. For more information www.essa.org.au.
Research confirms that headaches are best managed in a collaborative or team approach. Research shows that trying multiple strategies to manage headaches is most effective. Managing your headaches more effectively can lead to a reduction in both their severity and frequency.
Written by Craig Russell, an Osteopath with Alliance Health Clinics. Feel free to contact our clinic. We may be able to assist you. Remember to consult your doctor if you are unsure or experiencing medical symptoms.