Headache categories include tension type, migraine, cluster, and rebound with tension or stress related headaches being the most common. Chronic headache sufferers not only suffer physically but socially, emotionally and financially as well. An integrative approach in headache evaluation and treatment complements conventional medicine. Mind-body medicine looks at the interactions between the brain, mind, body and behavior and uses the power of thoughts and emotions to influence physical health.
Primary care providers focus on diagnosing the type and cause of the headache. Frequent triggers are: stress, certain foods, fatigue, sleep disturbance, low blood sugar, smells, and vision issues. If no underlying trigger can be identified, medications are available to relieve acute symptoms or reduce headache frequency. We also use certain herbs and supplements to prevent migraines.
Identifying foods and food chemical sensitivities is a key component of headache treatment. A food journal is a cost effective tool used to detect food sensitivities. Common triggers include tyramine, monosodium glutamate, nitrates, sulfites, dairy products, wheat, alcohol and caffeine among many others. Natural treatments may include magnesium, riboflavin, other B vitamins and the elimination, challengeor rotation of diets.
In Ayurvedic Medicine, headaches are classified as vata type, pitta type or kapha type. Vata type will tend to be in the back or left side of the head. Pitta type will be more in the temple or temporal area and kapha headaches tend to be in the frontal and nasal areas. Long-term management focuses on implementing a dosha balancing diet and lifestyle modifications, such as self-massage, to bring the energy system back into balance.
Energy therapies view the individual as an energetic entity who functions through a harmonious interaction of body mind and spirit. The more concrete layers of the body are suffused by subtler life energy, known in traditional Chinese medicine as qi or chi and in Ayurveda as prana. Smooth, harmonious, balanced energy flow brings health and vitality while blocked flow and stagnant energy bring sluggishness, mental dullness and disease.
Research in alternative and conventional modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, guided imagery, meditation, tai chi and yoga also demonstrate effectiveness in alleviating headache symptoms and management. Many of these therapies work well together and can be used synergistically as lifestyle imbalances are identified and addressed. When deciding on the best course of therapy for an individual, the mindset of the patient, his or her capacity for self-knowledge and self-care along with their understanding of the cause of the headache helps guide the treatment plan.
Acupuncture controls pain by increasing brain neurotransmitters and endorphins. Patients receiving acupuncture report less medication use, have fewer health care visits, and fewer days off from work due to headache pain.
Cranio-Sacral works to mobilize the membrane system within the skull taking pressure off the nerves or the blood vessels contributing to headaches.
A glass of water is the start to every Reiki session. Therapeutic touch can provide a sense of well-being that often helps headaches subside during a session. Reiki then promotes deep relaxation supported by activating life force energy. This results in better circulation and often less pain.
Chiropractic treatments address many types of headaches, especially those originating from the joints in the neck. Chiropractic adjustments of the ribcage and thoracic spine improve breathing, oxygenation and are especially effective in treating migraine headaches. We also offer pneumatic air insufflation technique which has shown great success in relieving migraine headaches.
If you have tension-type headaches, your therapist will work to make changes in your posture, lifestyle, and work station by stretching and strengthen muscles that may trigger headaches. Focus is placed on the upper trunk, including the back, shoulders, neck and face to allow optimal movement. During office visits, therapists use manual therapies such as massage, stretching, or joint mobilization to release pressure and tension. Other methods to promote pain relief include ice packs, heating, traction, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, endorphin releasing exercises or instrument assisted soft tissue tools.
Massage therapy has shown to be effective in reducing the frequency and duration of headaches. Recipients report less stress, less sleep disturbances and fewer overall headaches. Specific treatment focuses on the head, neck, shoulders, upper back and often times face and jaw to relieve the soft tissue tension associated with headache pain. Regular massage treatment is very successful in combating the negative effects of stress, which is one of the greatest triggers for all types of headaches.
Bowen therapy regulates the nervous system and stimulates circulation. As tension is released and circulation improves, the body can effectively the eliminate recurrence of headaches and migraines.
Many triggers for migraines originate from daily stress, moods, environment and how we emotionally handle life’s numerous situations. Chronic headaches can be a symptom of an underlying issue with a psychological basis. They can also stem from physical triggers. Psychotherapy helps to identify and reduce the impact of triggers and stress associated with headaches. It can assist clients with the feelings that can emerge with headaches such frustration, anger and sadness. Having a space to be heard and discuss the management of personal issues can be beneficial for relief. Generally, therapy can be part of a combination approach as an effective way of becoming headache free.
Naturopathic medicine focuses on identifying the contributing factors to headaches with a comprehensive approach. We focus on lifestyle stressors, dietary triggers, nutritional deficiencies and bio-mechanical imbalances. Homeopathic remedies can provide relief to headache sufferers by helping to resolve the tendency to develop headaches and optimize overall wellness.