Headaches are extremely common, with more than 6 million Australians experiencing some form of headaches on a regular basis. Headaches are also one of the most common reasons Australians give for missing a day of school or work. Headaches can have many causal factors including stress, heredity, lack of sleep, infections, diseases, injuries and lifestyle factors.
It is estimated that around 15% of the Australian population takes pain-relieving medications on a regular basis. Although headaches can affect any person regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or profession; people between the ages of 25-44 years are more likely to report having a headache. The good news is that the most common type of headache (tension headache) responds well to massage therapy; particularly remedial massage. If you are diagnosed with a tension headache and are looking for quick and natural relief, remedial massage for headaches can help you.
What Are Headaches?
A ‘headache’ is a general term that refers to any type of persistent or long-lasting pain in any region of the head, most commonly occurring above the eyes, back of the upper neck, base of the head or temples. Headaches can range in severity and frequency, and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, light and/or noise sensitivity and blurred vision.
According to a report released by WHO, common recurrent headache disorder affects nearly 47% of adults worldwide and places a considerable burden on their health, work productivity and finances.
Which Type Of Headache Do You Have?
Headaches can range from common and benign to rare and potentially serious; broadly they are classified into the following 3 major categories:
- Tension-Type Headaches (TTH) – these are the most common type of headaches. The symptoms (pain and discomfort) are usually very mild and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. Tension-type headaches can be treated using over-the-counter medications or remedial massage.
- Vascular Headaches – this is an Umbrella term and encompasses 4 different subtypes of headaches i.e. migraine headaches, sinus headaches, and cluster headaches; all of which manifest with different symptoms and are caused by different factors.
- Traction-Inflammatory Headaches – although very rare in occurrence, the traction-inflammatory headaches can be very serious and can be triggered by a wide range of underlying causes. Often times, the underlying causes are more serious in nature, therefore this type of headache should be taken seriously and diagnosed on time by a professional doctor to rule out potentially serious causes and start treatment in a timely manner.
The good news is that tension-type headache (TTH) and a few vascular headaches such as migraine headaches respond well to remedial massage.
Which Type Of Massage Is Good For Headaches?
Massage, in general, has proven to be effective in easing muscle tension, calming nerves, promoting relaxation and improving sleep patterns. Since different types of massage therapies work differently and target different parts of the body, it is important to know which type of massage is good for the kind of headache you are suffering from.
Remedial Massage for Headaches
Studies have shown that remedial massage can be very effective in reducing both tension-type headaches and chronic migraines. Not only can remedial massage help relieve pain; it can also help decrease the duration, intensity, and frequency of headaches and minimise the chance of recurrence.
Before treating, a remedial massage therapist first conducts a detailed assessment that includes carrying out a detailed medical history and performing various tests. In order for remedial massage to be effective, the therapist must first assess what muscles are involved. The therapist must also understand the individual’s health history to address if massage is appropriate and will have a positive therapeutic effect. Every client differs in terms of needs and health conditions, the type, intensity and duration of the techniques used during massage sessions will ultimately depend on these factors.
A typical remedial massage treatment may include any of the following massage techniques in combination with stretching exercises.
- trigger point therapy
- myofascial release
- deep tissue massage
Since there is no effective pharmacological treatment for common tension-type headaches and migraines, remedial massage for headaches is a great drug-free option for managing headaches.