Headaches and Massage

Approximately 45 million Americans complain of headaches every year. That means 1 out of every 6 people are affected yearly by headaches. The most common types of headaches include

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Sinus 

Cluster

Migraine

Tension

The most common type of headache complaint is the tension headache with an estimated 80- 90 percent of the population affected.

Sinus Headaches

Your sinuses are air filled spaces inside your forehead, cheekbones and behind the bridge of your nose.  When the membrane lining in the sinuses become swollen and inflamed it produces more mucus and the channels that drain the mucus gets blocked. This build up of pressure will cause pain that refers to a headache.  The pain is located behind the browbone, cheekbone, forehead, eyes and ears. You may feel pain and pressure in these areas and the pain is worsened by bending forward and laying down. 

 

Symptoms

  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Achy feeling in the upper teeth
  • Yellow-green or blood-tinged nasal discharge
  • Decreased ability to smell or taste
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Dry air can irritate your sinuses so using a humidifier will help to loosen the congestion as well as using a warm compress on the affected areas. Also try adding essential oils to your humidifier or diffuser. You can also use steam inhalation. Simply boil some water on the stove and add your oils covering with a lid. Once the water has come to a boil carefully remove the pot from the stove top onto a heat-resistant mat.

Cover your head with a towel to help capture as much of the steam as possible. Take off the lid and place your head at least 12 inches from the pot to prevent any heat damage to yourself. Breathe in through your nose for 5 counts and out through your mouth for 5 counts. You may do this for 5-10 minutes and repeat every 2 hours. Make sure to try and blow your nose after steaming. Also drink plenty of liquids. A good recipe for steam inhalation is 

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2 drops of Eucalyptus oil

2 drops of Thyme oil

3 drops of Rosemary oil

3 drops of Peppermint oil

 

Cluster Headaches

Described as one of the most painful type of headache this is classified as a neurological disorder involving excruciating pain on one side, usually around the eye.

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Symptoms

  • Restlessness
  • Redness on affected side
  • Swelling on affected side
  • Drooping Eyelid
  • Excessive tearing
  • Stuffy or runny nose on affected side

The majority of cluster headaches occur at night 2 hours after going to bed. They may last anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours and the pain dissapates as quickly as they begin, leaving the person pain free but severely exhausted. Unfortunately there are no home remedies and the effected individual may have to see a doctor to discuss medicated treatment options.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are classified into two categories: with an aura and without an aura. An aura acts as a signal that a migraine is coming. These signals include vision changes or blind spots, flashes of light, tingling sensation in the arm; or in some cases it may effect your senses such as taste, smell and hearing. However, most people experience migraines without auras. 

Symptoms

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  • Pain that is throbbing or pulsing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe neck stiffness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds and smells
  • Severe pressure or tightness around the head

Causes

  • Stress- the brain releases chemicals that cause blood vessel changes
  • Medications- High-blood pressure, heart disease, ulcer and circulatory disorders
  • Lack of exercise
  • Skipping meals
  • Sleep- too much or not enough
  • Weather- abrupt changes in barometric pressure
  • Female hormones
  • Foods high in tyramine- aged cheese, cured meats that contain nitrates, smokes or processed meats, alcoholic beverages; beer, red wine, sherry and liqueurs
  • Organ meats, chocolate, citrus, spices, foods that contain preservatives and  monosodium glutamate (msg) 

Treatment Options

If you are suffering from migraines make sure you start by doing as much self care as possible. A few tips for self care are listed below.

  •  Eliminate the food triggers from you diet and add nutritional supplements. Magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids such as borage oil or flaxseed oil, also found in salmon can help immensely to counteract migraine occurances.
  • Stress management techniques can help to reduce stress and improve mental health by finding an enjoyable activity to help unwind.
  • Improving your sleep habits by having a regular bedtime and avoid taking naps.
  • Aromatherapy- mix lavender and peppermint oils together using a carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, shea butter, etc) and rub on temples and forehead for relief. Be careful not to get too close to your eyes.
  • Massage- helps to relieve tension from tight muscles and helps your body to relax.

If your migraines are not improving please seek medical advice from your doctor.

Tension

As previously stated above, tension headaches are the most prevalent in today's society and are mainly caused by muscle tension. They are described as a dull aching head pain that is pressing or tightening but not pulsating. Tight muscles in face, neck and shoulders can offset a tension headache. It is more common in people that work at a computer all day due to eyestrain and poor posture. 

Symptoms

  • Tight muscles in face, neck and shoulders
  • Pain above and behind eyes, forehead, temples, neck, shoulders and base of skull
  • Dull aching head pain
  • Tenderness in scalp, neck and shoulders
  • May last 30 minutes to a few days
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Causes

  • Bad Posture
  • Stress (emotional or mental)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Not enough sleep
  • Low Iron
  • Muscle tension

Treatment Options

  • Relaxation techniques and stress management
  1. Aromatherapy- lavender, chamomile, peppermint and ginger
  2. Acupressure
  3. Reflexology
  4. Meditation
  5. Massage
  6. Posture correction exercises

Benefits of Massage for Headaches

  • Reduce frequency, intensity and duration of headaches
  • Reduces depression and anxiety
  • Decreases perceived pain, anger status, stress, sleep disturbances, muscle tension and medication usage
  • Increases cervical motion, relaxation and a sense of well-being

If you are suffering from headaches in the Salt Lake City, Ut area call today (801) 889-8784 and set up an appointment to help alleviate your pain. I look forward to helping ease your discomfort.