A Cure for the Common Brain Pain November 23 2013


Headaches are a pervasive problem for many individuals. Ranging from an occasional painful nuisance to chronic, debilitating migraines, massage therapy can be an effective remedy for both episodic as well as chronic headaches.  The source of headaches is often related to the nervous system, which is why headaches often stem from overstimulation, noise, and stress.  The trigeminal nerve in the head provides feeling for the eyes, sinuses, face, scalp and teeth; imbalance in any of these areas can manifest in headaches.

There are three primary types of headaches:

1/ Migraines - An especially debilitating condition where pain can manifest in specific areas of the head or may occur all-over the skull.  The sensation is typically a throbbing pain that may cause vomiting, extreme sensitivity to light and dizziness.  Migraine sufferers tend to have an especially sensitive nervous system, and prone to becoming overstimulated quite easily.  These individuals should take extra care to keep themselves in balance through exercise, limit sugar and caffeine intake, relax through massage, meditation and yoga, and avoid crowds, violent films and environments that jar the nervous system.

Migraines can also be triggered by diet (red wine, monosodium glutamate, nitrates and artificial sweeteners), PMS, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, and weather/atmospheric changes and may last up to three days in worst cases.

2/ Tension Headaches - The most common type of headache, tension headaches can be occasional or chronic in nature.  The sensation of a tension headache feels like pressure or squeezing against the skull and can last up to a week.  They may be accompanied by sensitivity to noise and light, but not to the debilitating extent that migraines are...  They are often linked to stress, repressed emotions, feeling overwhelmed and not getting enough sleep.

3/ Cervical (back of the skull) Headaches - These type of headaches originate from tension or imbalance in the neck, spine or surrounding muscles.  Pain is most often felt in the base of the skull, but may also radiate up and over the head or along the sides into the temples.  Pain can also manifest behind one eye and be accompanied by blurred vision and dizziness.  Accompanying symptoms are restricted neck mobility, extremely tight neck and shoulder muscles, and a rigid jaw.

Studies have shown that regular massage therapy can improve and reduce the severity of all of these types of headaches. By relaxing the neck, shoulder, scalp and facial muscles you may lower the incidence of cervical headaches.  Specific trigger point and myofascial work on the neck and scalp may release tension headaches.  And by relaxing the overall nervous system you can reduce the onset of migraines and tension headaches.  Massage is also a more natural alternative to over-the-counter and prescription drugs, many of which have unfortunate side effects.  Chronic headache sufferers should try to receive weekly massages for 6-8 weeks and then assess their improvement.