Tension headaches

Suffering from tension-type headaches? How osteopathy may help


tension-type headaches

Many of us experience headaches from time to time.

Yet often at peak times of stress in our lives – like tight deadlines at work – they can be impossible to shift for days and even weeks at a time. These tension-type headaches can be incredibly debilitating and limit our ability to function properly in our day-to-day lives.

Osteopathy may help.

Whilst patient responses to osteopathic treatment can vary from patient to patient – due to patient sensitivity to treatment and other lifestyle contributing factors – many people experience positive outcomes after osteopathic treatment.

Joseph* came to the clinic complaining that he had been suffering ongoing headaches for three weeks. He didn’t report any migraine-type symptoms such as nausea or sensitivity to light; rather he had a feeling of pressure and tension from the back of the head to the temples on both sides. He felt the longer the headache continued, the neck and shoulders increasingly stiffened up, causing an aching and burning sensation.

Joseph worked as a web designer and was currently finishing a stressful project. He was working 10 hour days and weekends to meet the upcoming deadline.

Assessment of Joseph’s neck, shoulder and jaw muscles found these to be very tender to touch. Lightly pressing the joints of his neck and base of the skull reproduced his headache symptoms at the forehead and behind the eye.

Joseph was diagnosed as suffering from a tension-type headache, caused by tension in the structures of the neck. This diagnosis was made through physical assessment; the ability to reproduce his headache with light pressure; the exclusion of symptoms related to other headache forms and from an understanding of his stressful work situation.

Contributing factors were both physical – long periods of computer use and lack of regular physical exercise – and emotional – heightened stress levels at work in getting his project finalised to deadline.

Joseph’s muscles and joints in his back, neck and head had tightened and needed to be released for the headache to shift.

Osteopathic treatment combined manual therapy to the tight muscles and joints of the back, neck and head with self-management strategies such as stretching and regular whole body exercise.

By the second treatment, Joseph reported a significant reduction in the intensity and episodes of the headaches and by the fourth treatment, he stopped having headaches and stopped taking painkillers altogether. Joseph continued treatment every 6 weeks to progress his exercises and further prevent a return of his symptoms.

Joseph’s experience is a common one. For many of us, our day-to-day working life involves prolonged sitting (often with poor posture) and periods of high stress.

*Name has been changed

This case study is for educational purposes only. Results may vary due to individual circumstances.

Vincent KingOsteopath, Wholistic Medical Centre