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  • Garry Luke

Where are your headaches really coming from?


Do you suffer from headaches? Most of us do from time to time whether it’s stress related, not enough water or too much indulgence (alcohol or coffee).

But did you know that headaches can be coming from the soft tissues in your neck, back, head and jaw? These can be in the form of trigger points in the muscles, restrictions or adhesions in the myofascia (muscle and fascia), tightness that irritates the nerves in the scalp and jaw as well as joint irritation in the cervical spine or the jaw.

So before you reach for the panadol or nurofen you should consider having some professional soft tissue treatment that can address these potential causes.

Trigger points in a muscle can be a major cause of your headaches. A trigger point occurs when muscle tissue becomes tight and contracted. It then can become so sensitive that it actually refers pain to another area of the body. If you look at the pictures below you can see the red pattern that is the referral. The x is where the trigger point is and where we will be working as a practitioner.

Common Trigger Points:

  • Upper Trapezius Muscle - Trigger points casued by hunching at the desk, wearing heavy bags on one side, heavy weights overhead. As well as stress.

  • Sternocleidomastoid - looking down while working at the desk. As well as stress.

  • Sub Occipital muscles - Forward head position from sitting at the desk. These muscles are supporing the head.

  • Occipitalis and Frontalis - Caused by tension in the scalp, long hours concentration at the computer screen. Raising the eyebrows and stress.

  • Jaw muscles (temporomandibular joint) including: , Masseter, Digastrics, Pterygoid muscles - clenching the teeth, chewing gum, grinding, stress.

Temporalis Lateral Pterygoid

Masseter Digastric

Medial Pterygoids

Do these patterns look familiar? If so it's highly likely you have trigger points. The easiest way to check is to press on the area on these pictures marked with an X. If it is really tender and especially if it refers then you definately need to get it released.

How did I get into this pain?

The most common cause of these trigger points is posture. If you are seated at a desk all day then it is likely your posture will slump at some point. This will make your head poke forward and tilt the head backwards. This overuses the trapezius muscles (extending the head), sub occipitals (extending the head), Sternocleidomastoid (flexes the head and laterally flexes).

Grinding the teeth.

Teeth grinding or jaw clenching can also be a major cause of headaches. The more you clench your jaw the more overused the jaw muscles become and this over use of the muscles can be the cause of trigger points in the masseter, pterygoid and temporalis muscles.

Posture

If you are slouched at the computer all day then you probably don't need to be told it can give you a sore neck or a headache. There are many factors here but posture is one of the major ones. When you slump forward the head tends to poke forward. To do this you need to use the sub occipital muscles, the upper trapezius, the SCM, the Splenius and semispinalis capitis to name a few. By having these muscles working day in day our to support the head you can see how they will become painful. Imagine holding a weight out in front of the body. It wouldn't take long before your arm became sore. This is the same principle in the head also. These muscles are overworked and through this the trigger points develop which then refer pain to other areas in the head.

What can I do?

Having the trigger points released by a professional who knows what they are doing is the first step. They will also be able to give you advice in how to self treat and also how to prevent these trigger points from recurring. This will enable you to take control of your pain and not be a victim of it.

If there are other, more serious factors involved or you are just not responding to the treatment then we have a referral network that means you can get the appropriate treatment. For instance if your headache is jaw related then sending you off to a neuromuscular dentist to assess your jaw will be important.

If you are suffering from migraines and our treatment hasn't been successful then referring you on to get an MRI to look deeper into your brain will be important.

If you are suffering from headaches, jaw pain, migraines, neck pain or ringing ears then getting treatment sooner rather than later is important. You don't have to live in pain.

Feel free to contact us now.

#headaches #triggerpoints #activereleasetechniques #dryneedling

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