Archive for the 'Headaches' Category

May 21 2011

Headache Free

This first article is about comprehensive natural approaches to headaches. All of us have clients/patients who suffer from headaches of varying degrees of severity on a regular basis. Any information we can provide, in addition to the relief we can give with our hands, can be very helpful. It is also appreciated that we care enough to provide information that might be helpful. This article could help with that objective.

Carolyn Chambers Clark, RN, EdD
is BellaOnline’s Holistic Health Host

Headache Free

This article explores a holistic approach to headaches that really works!

There are many types of headaches and some of them work in concert. For example, a muscle-tension headaches can increase the frequency and intensity and duration of migraine and vice versa.

Searching for the ideal pain killer isn’t the answer. For one thing, they have negative side effects and can create additional (rebound) headaches themselves. They are also toxic, especially the non-steroidal antiflammatory drugs (NSAIDS like aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.) And can cause major trauma to your digestive track, including hemorrhage. Finally, they don’t touch migraine and have only limited success in long-term cures for other types of headache.

Remember, headaches are just a signal your body is giving you that you need to eat better, rest more, get enough exercise, allow yourself pleasure, release anger and resentment and get a healthier lifestyle. Medication only masks pain and prevents you from addressing the underlying sources of your headache.

Conclusion? Like so many other diseases, a headache approach requires a multi-facted, holistic approach.

Set reasonable limits on the activities and responsibilities you can handle.
Ninety percent of headaches are due to stress or tension, according to Dr. Seymour Diamond, director of the National Headache Foundation. Tension headaches are just that—the result of too much tension. Are you just too nice? A pushover for others? If you can’t limit yourself, consider professional counseling to help you get a handle on limit setting. At the very least, set aside at least 5 minutes for you every day. Go out and smell the roses or just enjoy a sunset. Let beauty, peace and joy surround you.

Avoid foods that trigger headaches.
The most common are lunch meats that contain nitrites, fermented foods (e.g., bread, cheese, beer and wine), MSG, Nutrasweet, roasted nuts, chocolate, citrus juice, coffee and tea. You may have your own sensitivities. Start a food/headache diary, charting what you eat and your reaction to it. Eliminate the foods that precede your headaches.

Use seated massage for tension headaches.
Give yourself a neck and back of the head massage or find a friend or massage therapist. Go ahead—you deserve to be treated well. Or get your office to allow massage therapist in to help out with the stress.

Try cold for migraines.
Migraines are a result of a forceful rush of blood through dilated arteries. Hot won’t work, but soaking a towel in ice water, wringing it out and holding it to the back of your neck should provide some immediate relief. Ice cubes can work, too.

Try magnesium
This mineral is known to relax smooth muscle. Because of our depleted soils, we don’t get enough magnesium in our diets. Low ionized magnesium has been linked to migraine headaches in at least one study (Kahn, Jason, Medical Tribune, May 18, 1995, p. 7). Unless you’re eating organic vegetables, consider taking 300 mg of magnesium daily to build up your levels of magnesium (which is also good for your heart) as a preventive strategy. Older adults need 600 to 800 mg daily to help absorb calcium.

Try more B-vitamins.
In one study, people who took 400 mgms of riboflavin (a B-vitamin) decreased the severity of their migraines by 70 percent (Cephalagia, 14(5), 1994). You can take a lot of vitamins, or eat organically grown liver, chicken, peanuts, hickory nuts, soybeans, soy flour, wheat germ, whole wheat cereal/bread/pasta, fresh spinach, kale, peas, lima beans, sunflower seeds, and eggs. You can also find “stress vitamin” capsules in your health food store, pharmacy and grocery store. This is a combination of Vitamin C and B-complex vitamins.

Ingest more fish oil.
Another good reason to eat more oily fish in your meals is that fish oil has a platelet-stabilizing and antivasospastic action that has been shown to decrease migraine. If you don’t like or can’t eat fish, you can get fish oil capsules at your health food store.

Picture that headache going away.
Find a quiet and restful spot and use imagery to picture the color surrounding your headache and its location. Picture the headache turning into a soothing color. Then picture the headache turning into a liquid. Now let that liquid flow out of you and far, far away, someplace where it no longer has any effect on you.

Try biofeedback.
Children are especially good at controlling their headaches through biofeedback reports Lisa Scharff, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Learning to cool their hands by controlling blood flow results in half the children reducing their migraines to half the intensity. Check out biofeedback specialists in the yellow pages.

Check your posture and pillow situation.
Some headaches are due to poor posture, huddling over a computer screen, holding a telephone between your ear and shoulder, and sleeping with too many or too few pillows.

Try feverfew.
For over 200 years, feverfew has been used to treat migraines and has been shown effective in clinical trials (Murphy and others, Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial of feverfew in migraine prevention, Lancet 2(8604):189-92). Feverfew appears to work by reducing the pain and swelling caused by the body’s release of histamine and prostaglandins. Two 125 mg capsules daily or 60-80 drops of standardized tincture are used to prevent migraines. Find it in your health food store and double check for a standardized version and suggested dose. Not to be used when pregnant or nursing and not to be given to children under two years old.

Exercise daily.
Exercise can acquaint your blood vessels to the normal sequence of dilation, rather than the inconsistent dilation and constriction that takes place with a migraine, says Dr. Seymour Diamond, director of the National Headache foundation. Physical activity also alleviates pain by increasing endorphins and enkephalins, your brain’s pain-blocking substances. Consider a daily walk, a light swim or easy bike ride as a regular hedge against headache pain. Vigorous exercise is not recommended as you can bring on an exertional headache. At the very least, stretch your neck every half hour by gently rotating your neck from side to side and shrugging your shoulders to break the tension you’re holding in your muscles.

Try aromatherapy.
A blend of peppermint and lavender essential oil may relieve stress and muscle spasms. Consult an aromatherapist or get an aromatherapy book.

Breathe deeply.
Pay attention to the way you breathe. Under pressure you’re apt to take short, shallow beaths that fail to send enough oxygen to your brain. Allow yourself time to sit quietly and let your abdomen expand and deflate as you breathe in and out deeply, breathing in peace and relaxation and breathing out whatever it’s time to let go of.

Try acupressure.
Acupressure is acupuncture without the needles. Instead, use the tips of your fingers to press on special “point” from which nerve messages fan out and relieve your pain. Press hard enough to make the point hurt a little bit. Press the points for 15 to 30 seconds. Use either steady pressure or an on-off method, slightly decreasing the pressure, but not completely removing your fingers, every few seconds. Find the bony point just behind your ear. Next, find the big muscular groove at midpoint in the back of your neck. Halfway between these two places, on each side of your neck, you will find a small groove between two large muscles. Run your thumb up it until you come to the base of your skull. Push inward and upward hard into the groove and against the bone. Another point to press is between the outer corner of your eye and the outer end of your eyebrow. Find the ridge of bone at the outer edge of your eye socket. Move a finger’s width toward your ear to a small hollow and press hard.

Homeopathic remedies may help.
Many people prefer homeopathic care because it is so safe. In one study reported in the British Homeopathic Journal, 93% of people taking an individualized homeopathic medicine experienced good results, while only 17 percent given a placebo (sugar pill) did. Try a “combination” remedy, get a self-care book on homeopathy to select the remedy most closely matching your symptoms, or seek professional homeopathic treatment.

Stop smoking.
If you’re still smoking, be aware of the detrimental effects on your circulation. Find a good stop smoking class or purchase a stop smoking program or book.
As always, be sure to share your self-care plans with your health care practitioner.

Posted by Ralph at 04:05 PM
© 2009 Institute for Integrative HealthCare Studies. This work is reproduced with the permission of the Institute.>

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Jun 10 2010

The Dual Concept Massage Approach to Headaches

Published by under Headaches

Sometimes the most comprehensive solution for a dysfunction is to approach it from more than one perspective. You can reduce the severity of your clients’ headaches by merging these two styles of bodywork.

Fifty million Americans have chronic headaches – they are one of the most common physical problems in the range of human experience. Muscular tension, sinus infection, vascular spasm/dilation and chemical imbalances can all contribute to a headache. A headache can range in degree from irritating to debilitating. Massage therapists have the tools to significantly help someone who suffers from the more common types of chronic headaches.

The first step in the assessment of a client with a headache is to rule out any dangerous physical causes, such as a tumor, meningitis or aneurysm. Some questions during your performance of an intake that could ascertain these are:

• Is this the first headache you’ve ever had?
• Is this the worst headache you’ve ever had?
• Is this noticeably different from your usual headaches?
• Do you also have high fever, aches and pains, earache, dizziness or fainting?
• Could this be the result of a head trauma?

Yes to any of these questions should yield an immediate referral to the client’s physician. Massage is contraindicated in the case of a headache due to an infection or a central nervous system injury.

Another important question to ask is:

• Could you be dehydrated?

Many headaches are caused by the chemical imbalance resulting from dehydration. With a lack of water, the salinity, and therefore osmotic pressure, of the cerebrospinal fluid in the cranium rises. This painful head pressure can be relieved with adequate hydration.

Once you’ve established that you are not dealing with a headache stemming from a physical cause, determining the type of headache will help you select the most effective treatment for your client. In general, there are three types of chronic headaches:

1. Tension Headaches – These are the most common type of headache and they are characterized by tension, soreness and pain in the neck, shoulders, head and face. It can feel like a vice gripping the entire head.

2. Vascular Headaches – These are headaches where the pain comes from excessively dilated blood vessels in the meninges. The pain throbs with the client’s pulse. Common vascular headaches include:

A. Migraine Headaches – These headaches can be disabling. These begin with vasoconstriction followed by extreme vasodilation. They are usually one-sided and typically include intense pulsing and pounding in the head accompanied by nausea, vomiting and mood, visual and sound disturbances. Migraines can last for hours, days or weeks.

B. Cluster Headaches – These are the least common type of headache and they come in clusters. The clusters can be grouped over a short or a long period of time. They can be several times a day for a couple of days, for a few weeks or they can appear yearly. The symptoms of a cluster headache include a stabbing sensation in one eye, with tearing of that eye and that sided nostril, as well as agitation.

3. Sinus Headaches – This often accompanies an illness such as a sinus infection or sinusitis. Pain is generally around the eyes, cheeks, nose and forehead. The pain is deep and constant, and movement usually exacerbates it.

Massage therapy offers some important benefits to headache sufferers. Massage can help:
 relieve actual headache pain.
 prevent headaches by reducing tension and improving circulation.
 realign a structural imbalance.

A structural imbalance is often the root cause of chronic headaches. While massaging tense muscles can bring temporary headache relief, correcting a structural cranial imbalance can bring headache relief for good. The relaxation garnered from a massage can bring a great deal of relief to a headache sufferer. While easing stress can benefit most types of headaches, there are two additional factors that come into play in a successful treatment.

1. Release of contracted muscles: A skilled massage therapist will be able to recognize and effectively release the contracted musculature contributing to the headache. The tops of the shoulders and back of the neck are typical areas of tightness in headache sufferers. The blood vessels supplying oxygen to these muscles are constricted, and so the muscles are working with an inadequate supply of nutrients. This combination of muscle spasm and inadequate blood supply is the main cause of pain in tension headaches.

2. Structural Alignment: If a therapist only works with the back of the neck and shoulders, he/she will be encouraging the structural imbalance which may be the original culprit of the headache. Techniques to move the head, neck and shoulders back into structural alignment are best employed prior to extensive muscle release work for long lasting benefits. After correcting the alignment, addressing the causative postural deviation may be the lifestyle change necessary to prevent future headaches.

o According to Don McCann, MA, LMT, LMHC, in the May/June 2004 edition of the Massage Message, “When the head, neck and shoulders are released back into an improved structural alignment, the musculature in the back of the neck and tops of [the] shoulders will have already relaxed because it is no longer compensating for the forward head posture. The work on the soft tissue of the back of the neck and tops of shoulders can then be deeper and more effective.”

o For a vascular headache, a structural alignment has the additional benefit of improving the flow of cerebral spinal fluid and circulation of blood to the cranium. This can have long lasting benefits for the relief of a migraine or cluster headache.

Muscular Release for Headaches

Below is an ordered series for muscular release that a massage therapist can follow to effectively assist and/or create a structural change. This headache protocol is suggested by McCann.

1. Release the anterior shoulder and neck muscles. Have the client lie supine and work the pectoralis major and minor and then the subclavius directly under the clavicle. Then work the sternocleidomastoid and the three scalene muscles. This reduces the pull on the cervical vertebrae allowing them to shift back into alignment. While working the scalenes, rotate the head and work anterior and progress posteriorly. This will restore range of motion in head rotation, and allow a full release of the tightened musculature. WHEN TREATING THE NECK AREA, THERAPISTS MUST BE AWARE OF THE CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS REGION.

2. Release the top of the shoulder. Have the client lie on one side. Traction the shoulder and release the top of the shoulder and supraspinatus by working from the coracoid process to the superior angle of the scapula. Do not put a shearing pressure on the cervical vertebrae in this position – the pressure is directed toward the feet.

3. Massage the posterior fibers of the neck. Work from the base of the cranium into the tops of the shoulders by starting with the splenius capitus, then the levator scapula and then the trapezius. Again, do not put shearing pressure on the cervical vertebrae, but rather, apply pressure toward the feet.

4. Work the occipital ridge. Working the tightened fibers just under the ridge of the occiput will release the occiput, the atlas and the axis.

5. Massage the cranium. Carefully work the soft tissue that encompasses the head, being careful not to pinch any cranial nerves. Be sure to include massage around the sutures and the temporalis muscle.

6. Follow with lengthening strokes along the back. This is a nice way to finish, using long strokes down the entire back to reduce any additional pulling on the back of the neck and shoulders.

Structural Alignment for Headaches

Cranial-sacral therapy (CST) is the ideal modality massage therapists can use to obtain structural realignment. Not only can cranial-sacral therapy reduce the symptoms of headaches, but it can also create the structural change necessary to prevent future ones from occurring.

One of the founding principles of CST is that the bones of the cranium are not static, but are created for movement. The sutures that bind the skull bones together are not completely fused, but actually allow for slight movement in response to intracranial pressure. The structural shifts that occur with cranial-sacral work increase the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the cranium, down the spinal column and around the sacrum, which can effectively reduce intracranial pressure that causes headaches.

These recommendations assume that the practitioner uses cranial-sacral therapy in his/her practice. If you are not educated in this modality, we suggest appropriate training before attempting to mobilize the cranium. The following guidelines are courtesy of the Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies’ Cranial-Sacral Therapy Manual by Mary Sullivan, L.Ac. and Real Bodywork.

 A majority of headache sufferers will present with an occiput that is immobile. Using cranial-sacral techniques to mobilize a restricted occiput will result in a softening of tissue at the base of the occiput and free up movement of the atlas and axis.

 Headaches that are more prevalent on the side of the head and/or are associated with temperomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) can benefit greatly from cranial-sacral techniques that release the temporal bone and the mandible.

 Headaches that are related to the sinuses can benefit greatly from cranial-sacral techniques that release the maxilla, the zygoma, the frontal bone, the palatines, the sphenoid and the vomer bones. Sinus headaches are likely caused by fluid pressure that stretches the small nerves in the sinuses. Sinuses appear to be the primary outlet for built up cerebrospinal fluid.

 Cranial-sacral techniques that align the parietal bones can be very helpful for headaches on the vertex of the head and for clients that are easily angered.

 Cranial-sacral techniques that free the sphenoid bone can be the key to migraine relief. Migraines may be due to membrane restriction that squeezes minor blood vessels in the cranium. The sphenoid bone is referred to as the keystone of the skull, and its release can create a major structural realignment.

 Eyestrain and forehead headaches respond well to the cranial-sacral techniques that adjust and decompress the frontal bone.

 All types of headaches can be assisted by basic cranial-sacral techniques including release of the cranial base, the 4th ventricle hold and still point induction.

With the correct combination of techniques, a skilled massage therapist can provide his/her clients with significant headache relief. A diligent intake is critical in screening out headaches that need to be assessed by a physician and headaches that can simply be relieved by drinking water. Comprehensively inquiring about your client’s symptoms will guide you to choose the most beneficial muscular releases and cranial adjustments.

Using this dual approach model allows the massage therapist to proceed in a holistic manner — by addressing the symptoms and the origin. Headache symptoms are the manifestations of an imbalance, and muscular release techniques can effectively address these symptoms. A structural misalignment is a typical root cause, or origin, of chronic headaches. Research has shown that seeking proper postural education is an effective way to implement the lifestyle changes that will allow this dual approach treatment to hold. Incorporating these skills into your treatment protocol will allow you to confidently welcome headache sufferers into your massage practice.

Recommended Study
Cranial Sacral Fundamentals

Posted by Nicole at 05:17 PM
© 2009 Institute for Integrative HealthCare Studies. This work is reproduced with the permission of the Institute. <>

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Nov 17 2009


Published by under Headaches,Massage Therapy

Migraine: The pain is on one side only, radiating mostly from the eye area, the pain is constant and can last for hours or days. Migraine appears to afflict people who are as one specialist describes “usually perfectionists, who want everything done just so and exactly on time.” This emotional stress may be the case in most instances.
Migraine can in some cases be linked with structural problems as well as emotional issues.
Jaw misalignment and injury to the coccyx can be the cause.
Some migraine sufferers respond well, when treated with the Bowen therapy NST and Bio- chemic tissue salts.

The common headache seems to be traceable to
Stress, work overload, inflexibility, emotional problems
Clenching jaw, grinding teeth, jaw misalignment, eyestrain, dehydration, hunger, lack of oxygen, incorrect work posture, old injury, food intolerance, toxins, pressure from air conditioning vents, perfumes, odours, new furnishings, tight glasses, mobile phone earpieces wireless connection, noise, yellow lights , personal worry, issue with work or people at work, illness, sinus, high blood pressure, medication, eyesight problems.
More often than not it is a combination of physical discomfort and emotional tension. Stress

Thousands of sufferers have experienced relief once they become aware and understand what they are doing to their body
Self awareness
Discussing your problems with a GP or trained therapist will help.

1. Eat and drink properly.
2. Get plenty of exercise, fresh air, laughter & fun
3. Avoid as much as possible, useless and needless worry, try relaxation or meditation.
4. Do you feel frequent resentment, anxiety or disappointment? Try to modify your standards a little. It is important to get satisfaction out of what you can have and can do.
5. Learn to be less frantic about minor details at work. Many people have days when they feel worn out and irritable and try to drive themselves beyond their limits, on these days delegate as much as you can to others till you feel you have the drive and energy to take over again.
6 You can’t change other people, you can only change yourself and your reactions to others; once you change yourself you will see the difference in others.

In short, all headaches can be a useful warning for you to make large and small changes in you life and learn how to live sensibly, give your body good nutrition, plenty of water & fresh air, exercise and sunlight, reduce stress and look forward to enjoying good health into a ripe old age.

The following headache relief technique and tips are extracts from my self help website

Lights; Yellow flickering lights can be the problem asks for them to be changed for white light or daylight bulbs were ever possible. If you work near a window or have light in your eyes this will make you screw up your eyes which leads to tension, move your work to a different position.

Air conditioning vents; when you sit directly under air conditioning vents the cold air is being pressed onto your head it will start to feel like a ton weight by the end of the day. Move your work station if possible.

Incorrect working posture; sitting correctly when working on your computer will lessen the strain on you neck and shoulders this will help to reduce headaches, bad posture also restricts your breathing when you are slouched over you lungs can’t expand correctly and you don’t breath out fully so toxins cant be eliminated; Do some deep breathing and sit upright when working.

Dehydration: Drink more water, when you work in air conditioning you need to drink little and often you are not aware of how much moisture you lose and the odd cup of tea is not enough, aim for at least 6/8 glasses per day plus your usual beverage, tea & coffee act as a diuretic try drinking a glass of water as you wait for the kettle to boil that way you will quench your thirst and then you can really enjoy that cup of coffee

Eye strain; Get you eyes tested; constant close work can change your eyesight

New building and furnishings; Can give off gasses, with sensitive people this can cause headaches: If you are doing any decorating at home or if there is new paint in your work place or furnishings; take an onion and chop it into quarters leave it on a plate in the room it will absorb the toxins and smells from the paint etc. leave for a few days then throw it away.

To help relieve a headache
Use your fingertip or thumbs to press the area, press deep into the skin, rotate in small circles in the located area. You may feel some soreness, minor discomfort, tingling or tenderness. Each point is pressed firmly for approximately one minute as you press the point do some deep breathing, then stop pressing the point for five seconds repeat the procedures and work each point till relief is felt, you can work each point for up to 20 minutes. Drink a glass of water before and after treatment to re-hydrate the body and assist removal of toxins. Aim to drink at least 6 glasses of water per day.
This point is situated in the depression level with the outside corner of the eye
Use two fingers on either side of your temple, press gently but firmly, rub in small circles.

You will find this point at the back of the skull.
Follow the two large vertical neck muscles up to the base of the scull where you will find two hollows.
Use three fingers and press gently but firmly and rub in small circles.

This point is situated at the back of the head in the middle of the base of the scull where there is a hollow.
Use one or two fingers and press gently but firmly, rub in small circles.

Rub a drop of lavender or peppermint on the middle of your forehead and on both temples

Have a large glass of water and do some deep breathing
Breathe in and hold for the count of 4 then slowly breathe out to the count of 8. Gentle rub the back of your neck and head as you breathe out.

As you can see that people who suffer from migrines find it hard to deal with, Massage can help to decrease the pain and pressure on the head. This is most helpful to staff when they are in an office as this helps them get on with their work rather than taking off to go home.

for all your corporate, onsite, workplace massages and sport events please visit

* There are many other therapies that will help you to relax i.e. Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Indian Head Massage, Shiatsu, Massage, Yoga, Hypnotherapy, Reiki, Bowen NST to name but a few.

Joyce Hardy Holistic Practitioner MICHT Hol.Dip. BTAA.IIAHS.MFHT
© copyright 2008 Joyce hardy

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Nov 17 2009


What to do about HEADACHES
Are you one of the many people who experience recurring headaches?
Experts now believe that nearly all headaches are due to either the effects of muscle tension or dilated blood vessels in the head or to a combination of both.
About 90% of headaches are part of the body’s response to physiological and emotional stress, most of which you can help to control.
About 10 % of people suffer from headaches that are caused by organic troubles i.e. Infections, tumours, high blood pressure, Visit your GP to check any possible underlying medical disorders if you are suffering headaches which have not responded to self help.
Tension headaches; quite often start in the base of the skull or the back of the neck and spread all over the head
Posture problems usually set this type of headache off. Computer operators, book-keepers, draftsmen, factory worker, drivers etc who stare intently and bend over their work, staying in the same position for too long, this causes the neck and head muscles become rigid and go into spasm.
This can cause constriction of the blood vessels and their network of nerves, the decreased circulation then adds to the pain of the muscle spasm, you then have a headache.
Many of these problems can be eliminated by good posture and short breaks throughout the day, which will revive the body and get the circulation flowing.

Corporate massages, workplace or onsite massages are the best thing for staff as this helps them relax and when they relax more work can be done.
Visit my free self help website

© copyright 2008 Joyce hardy

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