One of the most common reasons people see a myotherapist is due to headaches. Headaches are also one of the most common human complaints, affecting over 60% of the population. Headaches can be placed under 2 categories: Vascular headache (migraines & cluster headaches), and Cervicogenic headache (typically caused from joint, muscle, fascia or neural dysfunction). The majority of headaches experienced by the population are of cervicogenic nature, which can be treated. Myotherapy is incredibly effective in treating and eliminating cervicogenic headaches. This blog will focus mainly on the latter type of headache.
The most common vascular headache is a migraine, a recurrent throbbing headache that characteristically affects one side of the head and is often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision. Migraines affect around 15% of the population and can typically start presenting from childhood. Migraines can last between 4-72hrs and often sleep and/or medication is the best remedy. The underlying cause of migraines is still not understood, but a genetic component is often a strong link for many sufferers, as are environmental triggers including food and weather. There is also a possible link between migraines and hormones, especially in women but again this is not well understood.
Cervicogenic headaches affect the majority of headache sufferers, and are often the result of referred pain from surrounding muscles, tendons, fascia or nerves. The majority of headaches that present in my clinic are due to referral pain from active trigger points (muscle knots). I get quite excited upon discovering this as I know that myotherapy is going to work wonders in eliminating their headache and neck pain.
TREATING YOUR HEADACHES
There are many neck, upper back & face muscles that are responsible for headaches. Upon conducting a thorough assessment of your pain patterns, we can establish which of these structures is causing the headaches. One particular muscle which rarely causes the individual any pain but can cause horrid headaches is the muscle in the diagram below, the sternocleidomastoid (SCM). As you can see from the diagram, this muscle can cause pain referral to many areas of the head and neck. It's a muscle that gets used significantly, especially if you work behind a desk or are looking at your computers/screens/phones for a good part of the day.
A myotherapist is your therapist when it comes to finding myofascial pain patterns and releasing the trigger points causing your headaches. Myotherapy treatment combined with specific exercises given will help to eliminate your myofascial headaches.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL HELP
If you do not have a history of migraines and experience a sudden onset of severe headache, or if you have suffered history of head trauma, you should seek medical advice for your headache as it could indicate a more serious medical issue.
Boden SD1, Davis DO, Dina TS, Patronas NJ, Wiesel SW. Abnormal magnetic-resonance scans of the lumbar spine in asymptomatic subjects. A prospective investigation. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1990 Mar;72(3):403-8.