Headaches are very common. Headaches were estimated to affect 15.9% of adults in the United States alone in 2018. Recurrent headaches can interfere with life and negatively impact well-being. There are multiple types of headache from tension headaches, migraines, headaches triggered by allergies or dehydration, or those related to posture (shoulder and neck tension). Headaches are multifactorial, in other words they have various triggers.
Typically, people use medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but long tern use is not advised. Thus, there is a need for non-pharmacological alternatives, such as Osteopathy, to treat headaches. Osteopathic treatment is ideal for managing the pain associated with different types of headaches. Osteopaths are also excellent at helping to educate individuals about the triggers for headaches as well as giving essential advise about management.
Recent studies published in BMJ Open suggest that Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) can be a safe intervention for the treatment of headaches. OMT involves manual therapy addressing the individuals issues by an Osteopathic physician. A course of treatments can help to reduce and even eliminate pain as well as impacting the frequency of headaches.
There are various ways that Osteopathy can alleviate headaches. For example, headaches such as migraine are associated with an increase in the pro-inflammatory response in the body and Osteopathic treatment can influence this response to relieve symptoms. Treatment affects the parasympathetic nervous system, including the famous Vagal Nerve and reduce the effects of the Autonomic Nervous System by reducing the stress response impacting the individual. Osteopathy can also affect the blood supply and drainage from the cranium (head) reducing stasis and improving some headaches.