Headaches and Migraines can be seen as part of the same family and tend to fall on a continuum — where you can occasionally experience mild headaches or on the total other side of the spectrum experience severe migraines.
What exactly is a headache?
A headache is a pain sensation that can appear anywhere in the head. The pain or pressure is usually on the temples, around the forehead, the side or back of the head and/or neck. The intensity can vary from very light to very strong and a headache can last from a few hours to days. The pain is often described as dull and on both sides of the head. Headaches often come on more slowly and gradual and can increase in their intensity. Headaches often occur with muscle aches and pains from the shoulders up, to the back of the head.
The 2 most common primary headaches are:
Headaches can be triggered by factors like: stress, teeth grinding, TMJ problems, lack of fluids, fatigue, certain foods, alcohol and drugs, low blood sugar, eyestrain, bright lights, heat and poor posture. Most headaches are tension headaches and can be a result of muscle tension in the neck and head area. This can lead to a contraction of blood vessels and nerves surrounding your skull – in particular Cranial Nerve 11 – the Accessory Nerve (see blog- Cranial Nerves) which innervates the trapezius shoulder muscle and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) (ie movement of the head and neck muscles). If this nerve is not functioning properly than the Traps and SCM are not properly innervated and will lack a proper tonus, causing headaches and stiff necks.
What exactly is a Migraine?
Migraines are more a disease of the nervous system and cause neurological symptoms. Migraines are can lie on a spectrum ranging from mild to severe to debilitating. Migraines are often on one side of the head, throbbing or pounding pain. Migraines are often accompanied by a variety of other symptoms caused by autonomic dysfunction like eg: nausea, blurred vision, aura, sensitivity to noise or light, increased thirst, irritability, difficulty concentrating and digestive problems. A migraine can last from minutes, to hours to days and often ranges from moderate to severe throbbing pain. Migraines tend to occur on one side of the head, symptoms are more severe, with sharp or throbbing pain. Migraines can last from hours to 4 days.
Headaches and migraines are mostly treated with over the counter and prescription medicine like painkillers, beta-blockers, anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription medicine to stimulate serotonin, with the aim to reduce inflammation and constricted blood vessels.
Does Craniosacral therapy help with headaches and migraines? Yes. Don’t take it just from me – as an ex-headache/migraine suffer – but there are multiple anecdotal and scientific studies to prove so as well. (attach BMC Complimentary study).
Craniosacral therapy can have great effect in particular when the migraines and headaches are caused by tension, neck and shoulder problems, jaw problems, sutural immobility in the cranial bones and/or a distressed and overwhelmed nervous system. My own personal headaches and migraines came from a strong tension pattern and after a whiplash accident – full blow migraines for months – where – as best as I can describe it - all the Christmas lights in my head were on full blast and flared up, along the nerve pathways in my head.
CST can address all above factors as well as any dysfunctions in the autonomic nervous system, neuro-musculoskeletal level and psycho-emotional level which can all be factors contributing to cause of migraines and headaches. It is however not a quick fix especially if it has been a long-standing pattern and will need a succession of treatments to go through all the layers and adjustments.