In our previous post, we talked about ways to treat headaches naturally. In this post, we will discuss the causes of headaches and why massage therapy, in particular, is so effective for long-term headache relief.
Except for the head colds, headaches are the most common human ailment. In fact, headaches beat out backaches as the number-one cause of time lost from work. Approximately three out of every four people will have at least one major headache within the year.
Some headaches, like migraines, are caused by a disturbance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. However, according to Dr. Janet Travell and Dr. David Simons, specialists in musculoskeletal pain, "It is now becoming clear that tension headache is usually due to trigger points."
Trigger points are small knots that develop in muscles. These knots or mini-spasms make pain travel to different areas of the body, often nowhere near the knot itself. For example, trigger points at the top of your neck can send pain directly into your eye. The name trigger point comes from the fact that these knots can sit in your muscles for ages without causing any pain until something "triggers" them to become active. Common triggers include fatigue, stress, poor posture, repetitive movements at work, and cold drafts.
Massage therapy is a proven way of treating trigger points for long-term headache relief. In one study, researchers found that chronic headache sufferers had dramatic relief after ten massages that focused on the treatment of trigger points.
"Massage has a clear long-term effect on chronic tension headache, lasting up to six months."
-- Dr. Puustijarni, Researcher
Although you may get some relief with general relaxation massage, long-term relief depends on correctly identifying and treating specific trigger points which are responsible for your pain. Single muscle trigger points can often be eliminated quickly and easily, sometimes within one or two treatments. We like to add Trigger Point techniques to a session in order to address these single muscle issues.
In more complicated cases, however, it may take significant time and your active participation to get lasting results.
Trigger points (small muscle knots) in the shoulder muscles (X's) cause pain to radiate into the areas shown in this illustration: the base of the skull, the temple and sometimes the jaw.