Headache Relief
by New Somatic Techniques

by Lawrence Gold, C.H.S.E.

Certified Hanna Somatic Educator
Certified Practitioner, Dr. Ida P. Rolf Method of Structural Integration

If you want a new result, take a new approach.

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      There are three general classes of common headache: tension headaches, sinus headaches, and migraine headaches; all three types of headache are triggered by two general situations that affect muscular tension: injury and stress. Both injury and stress lead to muscle tension. When headaches, the tension is in the neck and base of the head, sometimes accompanied by jaw tension, i.e., TMJ headaches.

     All three types of headache can usually be cleared up with a few sessions of clinical somatic education or with self-help techniques. The rest of this article discusses the mechanisms of tension headaches, sinus headaches, and migraine headaches and a means for their relief.

Please note that headaches resulting from more serious conditions, such as brain tumor or encephalitis do not fall into any of the three categories named above and the following article does not apply to such conditions.

TENSION HEADACHES

      Tension headaches occur as the muscles of the back of the neck closest to the spine and at the base of the head (occiput) get excessively tense. The tension of these muscles pulls upon the scalp and, according to recent medical research, upon the inside lining of the skull (the dura mater). Pain results.

DRAWING OF NECK MUSCULATURE

      Tensions existing more on one side than the other create headaches more on one side than the other; tension near the base of the head in back may cause pain in the temples, forehead, or eyes; tension at the base of the skull behind the nasal cavity and in the back of the throat causes sinus headaches.  In all cases, the sensation of heightened muscular tension is experienced as a headache.

      As muscles relax and this tension eases, the tension headache decreases in size and intensity, then fades out.

SINUS HEADACHES

      Sinus headaches are linked to the musculature that lines the front of the neck vertebrae (back of the throat). This musculature affects tensions of the lining of the throat, which passes behind the nasal cavity. Excessive tension, there, prevents normal sinus drainage.

      Once throat tension is alleviated, sinus drainage has consistently been observed to begin immediately. Facial pain and sinus headaches end.

MIGRAINE HEADACHES

      Migraine headaches occur as muscles at the sides of the neck get excessively tense. While no conclusive theoretical explanation exists as to why alleviating that tension ends migraine headaches, that fact has consistently been observed.

      One possible explanation for migraine headaches is that the major blood vessels that go into and come from the head pass under and around those muscles. Within those blood vessels are pressure-sensors (baroreceptors) that enable the brain to regulate the blood pressure of the head.  When the overlying muscles of the neck contract, they squeeze these blood vessels; the resulting change in blood flow affects the pressure sensors, causing abnormal regulation of blood pressure in the brain. That is, as I say, one possible explanation.

      While medical researchers know something about the immediate preconditions for migraine headaches, they are still uncertain about the underlying causes. What can be said with certainty is that as the tension of the deep musculature of the neck eases eases, relief occurs, migraine headaches occur less often, with less intensity, and often cease altogether.

THEORY

      An injury, such as a whiplash injury from a vehicle accident or a fall, prompts us to tighten up the neck muscles to protect ourselves from the sudden extreme movement that threatens our neck. In a person who already has some neck tension from stress, such an event can lead to a long-term increase of neck tension. Headaches, dizziness and other symptoms not obviously related to the injury typically result.  Even after tissue healing (if there has been damage), the muscular tension sometimes persists, and so do the headaches. Misdiagnoses of torn or stretched ligaments are fairly common. (We know they are misdiagnoses when, by virtue of sessions of somatic education, headaches quickly end; somatics does not heal torn ligaments, and ligaments take a very long time to heal.)

      Drugs and manipulative therapies do not usually aid the person in ending their protection reaction; the tension remains or returns, as you have probably observed.  That's why relief is so often temporary (drugs) and the course of treatment so long (manipulative therapies).

      Drugs for headaches work three general ways:

    • by interfering with the body's ability to sense pain
    • by reducing muscular tension
    • by changing blood flow patterns in the head

CLINICAL SOMATIC EDUCATION

      Both tension headaches and migraine headaches fall within the scope of clinical somatic education.

      Hanna Somatic Education, a clinical method used to resolve chronic musculo-skeletal disorders, is a non-invasive approach that uses the nervous system's capacity to learn new muscular control. This learning-based approach fairly rapidly ends involuntary muscular tensions, relieving the pressure that induce both tension headaches and migraine headaches. More about the technical side of Hanna Somatic Education can be found in the article, (CLICK HERE) "Pain Relief through Movement Education" (sensory-motor integration) -- Explaining Hanna Somatic Education, reprinted from the American Journal of Pain Management (January, 1996, Vol. 6, no. 1, pg. 30) and the Therapeutic Specialist's Quarterly Report (summer, 1997, Vol. II, Issue VI, pg. 2).

      Somatic education ends both types of headache by addressing the underlying condition: habitually heightened muscular tension. One of the major brain functions is to control muscular tension; somatic education modifies brain functioning so that the brain normalizes muscular tensions. No more pressure on nerves, no more circulatory imbalance, no more pain.

      At the hands of an proficient somatic educator, a tension headache can be cleared up in ten to twenty minutes.  One or more sessions produce an improvement that lasts into the future. Migraine headaches commonly require two to four clinical sessions to produce the desired changes.

"I had one [migraine] headache [after last week's session] that lasted half a day.  Usually, it would have lasted three days.  I'm so excited, I can't wait to see what happens next."
Gayle Bothan, somatics client
(no longer has headaches after four sessions)
      In my own practice as a Hanna Somatic Educator, I have worked with many individuals with migraine, tension, and sinus headaches and obtained successful long-term relief with all but one person.

     There are about four hundred Hanna Somatic Educators spread throughout the world. (LIST) However, the methods of somatic education are so direct upon the underlying causes of both tension headaches, sinus headaches, and migraine headaches that the self-help methods have been found effective, according to individuals who have used the self-help resources. Such self-help instructional resources are available risk-free through this website.

For further contact, please click the "envelope" mail icon at the bottom of this entry.


The Institute for Somatic Study and Development
Santa Fe, NM

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