Headaches

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  • Common headache (cervicogenic headache)
  • TMJ pain (jaw pain)
  • Migraines

Cervicogenic headaches

What is it?

One of the most common types of headaches that present in the clinic are often referred to as cervicogenic headaches. Cervicogenic headaches have a gradual onset. They may be present for days, weeks or even months. Headaches may be present first thing in the morning and ease off during the day.

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Signs and symptoms:

  • Constant dull ache, can be present on one or both sides of the head
  • May experience a tight band around the head
  • Pain may initially begin at the base of the skull and refer to the top of the head, behind the eyes or around the temporal region
  • Experience neck pain or stiffness which may be aggravated by neck movements
  • Can experience light headedness and dizziness

Causes:

This type of headache is caused by dysfunction in joints, muscles or nerves in the neck. Most often headaches arise from trigger points in the muscles around the neck and shoulders. There may be a past history of trauma (eg whiplash), evidence of poor posture or muscle fatigue. Stress and dehydration can also be a major contribution to the cause of headaches.

Treatment:

Rest, hydration and use of heat pack may alleviate tension in the head and neck. Osteopathic treatment may help correct the dysfunction of associated structures in the neck. We also prescribe exercises to help strengthen the neck and correct posture. Osteopathic techniques include soft tissue techniques, joint mobilisation, stretches and manipulation, all of which may assist in the treatment of headaches. We will often assess surrounding areas such as the jaw, ribs and spine to determine any secondary compensations.

References:Brukner, P., & Khan, K. (2008). Clinical Sports Medicine (3rd ed.). Mc Graw Hill Australia Pty Ltd


Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain Jaw pain

What is it?

The temporomandibular joint or TMJ is the area where the jawbone connects to the skull. It is located on either side of your head near your ear. It is where the jaw moves up and down, and side to side during chewing and talking for example. TMJ pain or syndrome is where there is a dysfunction associated with the jaw and surrounding facial muscles.

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Signs and symptoms:

  • Jaw pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Ache around your ear
  • Locking around the jaw
  • Lack of movement of the jaw
  • Clicking or popping sounds at the jaw

Causes:

There are a variety of causes of TMJ pain. Some common causes include muscle tightness around the neck and jaw, dental work, headaches, stress, clenching or grinding teeth at night. Other causes may include arthritis or jaw trauma.

Treatment:

Osteopathic involves a combination of soft tissue techniques, joint mobilisation and stretching to treat TMJ conditions. We often screen (examine), then treat if indicated, other areas of the body such as the neck, mid back and tissues at the front of the throat in order to address TMJ pain. As part of our treatment consult, we offer advice regarding lifestyle management eg posture, stretches and exercises.

References:Oral health care: Temporomandibular joint disorders. (20092015). Retrieved from
http://www.webmd.boots.com/oralhealth/guide/temporomandibularjointdisorderstmjtmd
TMJ disorders. (19982015). TMJ disorders. Retrieved from
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseasesconditions/tmj/basics/riskfactors/con20043566

Migraines

What is it?

Migraines are headaches that can last from 4 to 72 hours. People often experience a throbbing pain. Common food triggers include chocolate, cheese, coffee, nuts, processed meats, fatty/salty foods and wine/beer. Other triggers may be certain stimulus such as light, loud noise, fatigue, menstrual cycle and side effects to some medications.

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Symptoms:

  • Aura associated with migraines
  • Throbbing ache
  • Pain behind the eye
  • Experience flashing lights or changes in smell and perception
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

Causes:

The causes of migraines are said to be temporary changes in the blood vessels in the brain. Hormones, chemicals in the brain and genetic predisposition may also have an effect.

Treatment:

Treatment may involve the use of medications, looking at certain triggers and the use of conservative management. Osteopathic treatment may be beneficial for migraine suffers. We may provide relief to tight muscles that are often the cause of pain referring to the head, neck and down the arms. We also offer advice on lifestyle management. It may be helpful to keep a headache or journal diary.

Reference:Migraines Triggers. Retrieved from http://headacheaustralia.org.au/migraine