Are you experiencing tension or migraine headaches in Asheville, NC? If so, Still Point Osteopathic can likely help.  

Tension and migraine headaches may be viewed as on the same continuum. If you suffer from migraine headaches, how often have you noted that they can be brought on by a regular tension headache? After medication has relieved the migraine, have you noticed an underlying background headache that you can’t seem to shake?

Current research suggests that tension headaches are the result of a muscle strain, or tension placed on connective tissue, which can irritate nerves going through these structures. After enough irritation this can cause regional pain.

People suffering from migraine headaches in Asheville may have a genetic predisposition, but the causes of migraine headaches remain uncertain. Some foods or additives may trigger a migraine. Frequently reported triggers include alcohol (including red wine and beer), artificial sweeteners, chocolate, processed meats and foods containing MSG. These are vasoactive substances which cause an increase in blood volume inside the head. Medications used to treat migraines - such as Relpax and Frova (Triptans), Ergomar (an ergotamine), and over-the-counter anti- inflammatories containing caffeine - all reduce blood flow to the head.

This would suggest that increased pressure inside the membranes and vessels are in part causative for migraine headaches. This makes sense, when understanding that the membranes that surround the brain do not cause pain when cut, but do so when stretched, as when engorged with blood.

So back to the relationship between tension and migraine headaches: Blood flows into the head via arteries that are under pressure. Once the blood is distributed by the capillaries to the brain and is used, it collects into the venous system, which is under low pressure. If there is a blockage to the venous blood exiting the head, the pressure inside the membranes (dura) builds and stretches these membranes.

Tension in the muscles or connective tissue surrounding the head, as in a tension headache, may be sufficient to re-position vertebrae at the base of the skull. The strain in the tissues can cause pressure on the internal jugular veins exiting the base of the skull and cause a “kink,” as in a hose. This restricts the vessels through which the majority of blood flows out of the head, causing a buildup in pressure, and there’s your migraine headache!

This pattern is typical of migraine patients I see in Asheville. If the pattern remains, over time the migraine headache is almost pre-programmed, requiring only a little additional insult. Stress, bright lights, or ingestion of a triggering food may be all that is required to set one off.

Tension headaches typically respond well to osteopathic manipulation. Tense tissues are treated, postural problems such as a forward roll to the shoulders or decreased curvature of the cervical spine are addressed. Assigned stretches may be required, but overall these type headaches are not as difficult to improve.

Migraine headaches may be more complicated to treat, but I find non-hormonally induced migraines (that is, migraines not linked to a woman’s menstrual cycle) respond well to osteopathic manipulation and cranial osteopathy. As in tension headaches, underlying structural issues are addressed. Using well-tolerated, gentle techniques, cranial osteopathy addresses the strains in the dura that are contributory. Education on which foods to avoid may be necessary, but it is not unusual to have previous triggers better-tolerated after successful treatment.

Structural issues that are located far away from the area of pain may need to be addressed, such as from a previous fall that locks up the sacrum. As in all osteopathic treatments, the goal is to resolve underlying issues that block the person’s ability to establish health. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So if you’re experiencing tension headaches or migraine headaches here in Asheville, North Carolina, you can feel better! I encourage you to book an appointment at Still Point Osteopathic today, at (828) 348-0411 or by emailing info@stillpointosteopathic.com. We’ve made a difference in many lives, and we’d love the opportunity to make a difference for you.

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