We’ve all experienced a time in our lives where a headache has stopped us in our tracks. Headaches can be very painful and debilitating, whether short-lived or more chronic, and can cause major disruption to your everyday life. 
Some of us experience headaches more often than others. In most cases, headaches are caused by an underlying issue such as eye strain, sleepless nights, stress, not drinking enough water, pain in the neck or shoulders, or a migraine. 

What is a headache? 

A headache is a symptom of pain in the head, face or neck. This primary pain can range from a very mild, dull ache to a sharp persistent pain that lasts for days at a time. 
Headaches aren’t usually a sign of anything serious but can be caused by a variety of factors such as environmental, lifestyle or pre-existing medical disorders. 
During a headache, the nerves, blood vessels and other sounding soft tissues will tighten which stimulates the nerves and sends signals of pain to the brain which causes pain. There are many different types of headaches. Below are some of the most common. 

Tension headaches 

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, also known as muscle contraction headaches. They’re short-lived, typically mild, and can be treated by using over-the-counter medications and drinking more water. If the primary cause of tension is not resolved, you’ll get headaches more often, and over time secondary musculoskeletal pain may be felt in the back of the head and neck muscles due to referred secondary pain and muscle tension. 
Pain experienced with a tension headache is usually a pressure feeling to both sides of the head with a dull, aching persistent pain. It’s also common to feel discomfort around the temples and eyes during a tension headache. 

Migraine headaches 

Migraines are a much more severe type of headache that can cause intense pain, sickness, light and sound sensitives and completely stop you in your tracks. 
There are a few different types of migraines, but the most common ones are classic migraines, migraine without aura, and cluster migraines. 

Classic migraine 

A classic migraine tends to come with something called an ‘aura.’ These types of migraine are responsible for around a third of all migraines and are characterised by one sided intense pain, blurred vision, flashing lights, dizziness, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. 

Migraine without aura 

Migraines without aura often take people by surprise, as auras can be one of the tell-tale symptoms that a migraine is on its way. Migraines without aura are like classic migraines but can also cause the eyes and nose to run and vomiting to occur. These types of migraine tend to last longer than classic migraine attacks. 

Cluster migraine 

Cluster migraines are the most intense level of migraine, affecting women more than men. 
The most common symptom of a cluster migraine is a sharp persistent pain in the head that surrounds the eye. This type of migraine can often be felt in the muscles around the face, neck, shoulders, and back. Cluster headaches tend to appear with no warning and often happen in the evening. A cluster headache is the longest-lasting of the migraine headaches, lasting weeks or even months at a time. The exact reason for cluster headaches is unknown, but they can be triggered by diet, alcohol, certain smells, stress, and hormone changes. 

How can massage therapy help with my headaches? 

Both tension headaches and migraines can be effectively managed by regular massage therapy. Massage therapy focusing on the head, neck, and shoulders can be very relaxing and reduce stress. Massage therapy can also help to increase blood flow, loosen tight muscles, and balance out your hormones by reducing your cortisol levels. 
If you suffer with headaches frequently you may find yourself reaching for over-the-counter painkillers regularly. Massage therapy is a drug free non-evasive approach to managing pain. 
Do you struggle with headaches? We may be able to help. Book a massage online today. 
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