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Migraine Awareness Week 3rd – 9th September

Osteopathy and Migraines, Patient Stories and Advice

Migraines are recurring one sided headaches that are often accompanied by vomiting, nausea, visual disturbance and sensitivity to light and sound. Symptoms can last hours or even days. Though young adult women are the most common sufferers, migraines can strike people of any age.

Hector Wells an osteopath and member of the British Osteopathic Association runs a daily ‘headache’ clinic in Banbury, Oxfordshire, “headaches and migraines tend to start due to tension often in one of three areas of the body – tension in the pelvis, in the diaphragm or in the head and neck. Often the tension is greater on one side of the body and very often I’ve found that a migraine begins as a person starts trying to relax – a lot of headaches are associated with the start of relaxation.”

He continued, “I tend to see more women than men and although I agree that more women than men suffer from migraines I believe they are also more confident in seeking pain relief and will therefore look to methods other than medication

• Pelvic-led headaches can be caused by periods, following childbirth or an injury to the sacrum

• Diaphragm-led – food poisoning, abdominal surgery, tension/stress related – quite often accompanied with a tight shoulder more commonly the left – left or right shoulder tension is often symptomatic of to diaphragm tension

• Head/neck led headaches – left or right imbalance, neck tension, postural problems or following an injury – whiplash or banging your head

“Some people never quite relax, and perhaps don’t even realise this. If someone suffers from headaches it’s because tension has built up in a particular area of the body causing an imbalance. “

Although massage can help relieve tension an osteopath actually seeks the cause and will align the body to balance the left and right sides, helping it return to its natural state. Osteopaths work in conjunction with existing healthcare and medication and many patients are able to move away from medication altogether when receiving osteopathic treatment.

Stephen Hazelton (Lawyer) suffered from headaches for 20 years, mostly migraine and in the months leading up to first visiting an osteopath the pain would go up the back of his neck and head. He was taking paracetamol regularly and going to the gym to relieve stress. His wife suggested that he saw an osteopath and after one session with Hector there was an improvement. He has now seen him five times regarding his headaches since February 2006. He still gets the odd headache but he knows when it is coming on. Hector has also taught him how to breathe properly from his diaphragm as he thought this was a factor.

Simon Prothero suffered from a two month bout of cluster headaches classically regarded a condition for life and untreatable. A ‘background’ headache would last the duration of the eight weeks and a more intensive headache would take place regularly. Simon was able to start taking self administering pain relief injections quite early on, which predominantly helped with the intensive headaches.

At the end of the two months he knew that although the return of the headaches varied from person to person the majority of sufferers tended to have a repeat attack within a year and he needed to do something to prevent this. He therefore turned to his osteopath for help. In the twelve months that followed Simon had an osteopathic treatment every six weeks with the belief that if the attacks didn’t occur within that year then it was a good sign that the osteopathy was working.

The twelve months passed and Simon hasn’t experienced cluster headaches since and believes this is due to the osteopathic treatments keeping his body in-balance and removing tension in areas that tend to trigger headaches.

Advice from Hector Wells:

When suffering from a headache something as simple as a cold face flannel or using a water spray on the face can make a difference. Cold items on the face encourage the body’s parasympathetic system to release tension

If you’re suffering from sinus headaches stand in the shower and let water run down your face. Pinch your nose at the bridge and push it from left to right, breathing at the same time, whilst the water runs down. Gradually change the direction and the pressure on bridge of the nose – this should help clear the sinuses

When headaches are caused by diaphragmatic tension lower in the body, often associated with heart burn or indigestion it helps to put a heat pack on the front and back of the diaphragm and drink a warm drink at the same time to help relieve the tension and get your body to a relaxed state

To speak to an osteopath or a patient of osteopathy please call Rebecca Jones / 020 8964 0260 /

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