Headaches / Migraines

a person suffering from headaches or migraines

Headaches are a common complaint with a wide range of causes. Almost everyone experiences a headache at some point in their life while only 10% of people may deal with migraines.

40% of headaches fall under tension type, which have muscular origins. In many cases, the headache also has cervical tension or restriction. The related muscular tension can originate from the occipital muscles at the base of the skull and/or the trapezius, which connects the skull and neck to the shoulder blades (scapula). The group of muscles called the scalenes can also cause cranial pressure and neck stiffness.

Often times, the cause of these muscles becoming tight is changes in the balance of the autonomic system in our body. This system governs the stress response as well as the presence of trigger points.

Though not as obvious, dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can also cause headaches. In this case, the temporalis and massater muscles may clench and develop chronic tension.

Therefore, treatment of tension headaches focuses on restoring balance to the nervous system and reducing tension in the affected muscles. Both acupuncture and manual therapy tend to produce good results for alleviating headaches.

Migraines however are typically considered to have more vascular origins that also impact the trigeminal nerve. Although they are more severe in symptoms and more complex to treat than tension headaches, acupuncture and manual treatment have also produced successful results regarding migraines.