Everyone experiences headaches from time to time. The most common type of headache is the tension headache, and for some people, they can happen on a daily basis. Usually, sufferers rely on over-the-counter pain remedies and go about their daily business as usual. Migraine headaches, on the other hand, are far more severe. They can cause intense pulsing or throbbing, and are often accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting, along with a heightened sensitivity to sound, light and odors. They can cause pain for hours, or even days, and many sufferers report that they’re so debilitated by the pain that all they can do is find a quiet, dark room and lie own until the migraine passes.
The cause of migraine headaches is not really known, although there does seem to be a genetic component – if you have a parent or other immediate relative who suffers from migraines, there is a greater likelihood that you will also experience them. Fortunately, help is available, and it does not necessarily have to mean taking powerful pain killers. Increasingly, migraine sufferers are finding relief with myofascial release.
The fascia is strong, thin connective tissue that surrounds your bones, muscles and internal organs. In its healthy state, fascia is flexible, and provides a seamless web that shapes and supports body structures. However, when you sustain an injury or an inflammation, the fascia fail to move as they should. Myofascial release is a means of applying sustained, gentle pressure to the affected area, relieving stress and symmetry to the fascia, improving its elasticity. Myofascial release is used to treat any number of problems, including the chronic pain of migraine headaches.
In order to give flexibility back to the fascia, the practitioner performs alternating movements that compress and stretch the fascia. This reduces tension, including abnormal stresses on the head and neck. That is why the procedure is so effective on tension headaches. However, it can also help to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches, and may even prevent them.
It is also important to keep in mind that headaches of all types may also have an emotional or psychological component. People who are in emotional distress sometimes react by assuming body positions that actually strain the muscles in the neck, shoulders and head. Rather than providing relief from the emotional stress, this actually works to damage the fascia and cause, or aggravate, headaches. One thing to remember about myofascial release is that it is not a treatment for the underlying causes of emotional headaches. Some patients, however, find that the treatment is so relaxing, it has a positive effect on their emotional state, and in that way it can work to alleviate headaches.
Headache treatment by means of myofascial release can require a number of sessions. During your first appointment, your practitioner will talk with you about your headaches – the level of pain, the duration, and what types of stressors appear to bring them on. Then, he or she will work with you to develop a course of treatment. Each session will last approximately one hour, and depending on the treatment plan and your personal expectations, you may have treatments just once a week, or up to three times. The practitioner will deliver light pressure and compression to the fascia so that blood flow is improved and the fascia relaxes. The treatments will be painless, although you may occasionally experience some temporary aching immediately following a session. This is rare, though, and only occurs if your fascia are extremely tense.
Often, you’ll experience significant relief after just one session. With migraines, though, several sessions provide longer-lasting relief.
Migraine headaches are the most painful type of headache you can experience. In years gone by, medication was the only approved medical course of action, but today, patients are increasingly obtaining relief from myofascial release sessions.
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