Headaches and Massage

Headaches are an unfortunate fact of life for millions of people.  The need to continually cope with pain can have an effect on a person's life at work, and home.  Fortunately, with the ability to relieve muscle tension, promote healing of injuries and reduce stress, therapeutic massage can be a powerful tool to help prevent and alleviate headache pain. There are several types of headaches, and understanding the cause of yours is an important step in learning how to manage symptoms and reduce freqency.

 Tension headaches are very common and are caused by basic muscle tension.  They vary in pain level and are sometimes accompanied with pressure around the head.  They originate from the neck, head and shoulders from tight, contracted muscles and/or trigger points.  Postural problems, mental and physical stress and poor sleep can all contribute to this type of headache. 

Migraine headachels are characterized by intense, one sided pain which may extend into the face, jaw and neck.  They can last from several hours to several days and invovle nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and sensitivity to light and sound. Common triggers include stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, certain foods, medications, bright light and loud noise.  

Injury related headaches are often caused by trauma such as whiplash or have gradual onset due to repetitious activites such as working at a computer for hours daily.  Muscle tension, scar tissue, ligament and tendon injury can limit movement, restrict blood flow and cause trigger points resulting in head and neck pain as well.

There are many other types of headaches including cluster headaches that occur in a series, then disappear for months at a time, rebound headaches from accumulated toxins associated with frequent use of pain medications, headaches associated with head trauma, sinus and allergy headaches,  TMJ Dysfunction headache, and headaches caused by high blood pressure.  It is important to seek medical attention for any chronic or severe headache.  A sudden, severe headache, or a headache accompanying trauma may be a sign of an underlying issue and you should seek medical attention immediately. 

How can Massage Help?

Massage can help relive headaches by releasing tight, shorten muscles, trigger points, and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles and other structures).  When these structures become more relaxed, circulation improves which helps to eliminate irritating cellular waste products and brings oxygen and healing nutrients to the tissues.  If your headache are due to an injury or chronic muscle stress, massage can promote healing and and make restrictive scar tissue more mobile in the muscles and ligaments of the neck. If posture is a factor, massage can help by increasing awareness of tension patterns and allow you to take steps to improve.  The relaxation effects of massage are a powerful tool to ease stress and tension which play a major role in many types of headaches.  Cranioacral Therapy has proven to be very effective in headache relief and prevention. Headache specific massage, such as our Cold Stone Therapy, focuses on addressing the underlying cause of the headache while providing relief from pain.