Migraines And Headache Management
Trigger Points and Migraine Headaches – What the Studies Say!
One study demonstrated that trigger points may play a far greater role in the perpetuation of migraines than previously thought (Calandre et al. 2006). The study compared patients at a headache clinic who suffered from frequent migraines with both non-clinic subjects with fewer migraine attacks and healthy control subjects who, at most, had infrequent tension headaches. The researchers examined specific muscles for trigger points and found that 93.9% of the migraine subjects had trigger points with referred pain patterns that reproduced their migraine pain and other symptoms. By comparison, only 29 percent of the healthy subjects had pain referred to the same areas, and the pain was not migraine-like in quality. Pressing the trigger points of migraine subjects could reproduce the location of pain, the throbbing quality, light and sound sensitivity, and other symptoms that were common for that person.
The researchers discovered that the longer the history of migraines and the more frequent the attacks, the greater the number of trigger points the person had in their muscles.
The researchers theorized that the trigger points themselves could be responsible for the changes in the nerves and blood vessels in the brain, rather than the vascular system necessarily being a separate and distinct input system on its own. It is well-known that trigger points can cause symptoms other than referred pain, such as dizziness, vertigo, diarrhoea, painful periods, colic, heart palpitations, and other conditions that wouldn’t normally be thought of as caused by trigger points in muscles...
So which came first? Did the trigger points in certain muscles lead to the development of migraines and then a self-perpetuating cycle began, or did the migraines come first and lead to development of an increasing number of trigger points? In any case, this discovery is very heartening, as it means treating trigger points can have a significant impact on reducing or eliminating migraines.
Cluster Headaches & Tension Headaches
If you have headaches, you are likely to have trigger points in your neck and head muscles that, when pressed, will refer pain to the areas where you normally feel your headaches. In all likelihood, trigger points in more than one muscle of the neck and head are causing overlapping referral patterns, so it is important your therapist locates all of the trigger points involved.
Trigger Points and Central Sensitization in Tension Headaches
A study by Dr. Lars Bendtsen (2000) confirmed the role of central sensitization in chronic tension headaches... Certain muscles were tender even when the subject was not experiencing a headache at the time.
Bendtsen theorized that long-term inputs from trigger points eventually lead to central sensitization in specific areas of the spinal cord and brainstem, which in turn causes additional changes in the affected muscles, a self-perpetuating cycle that converts periodic headaches into chronic tension headaches. Because of this, even if the original initiating factor causing episodic headaches is eliminated, the trigger point-central sensitization cycle can continue and worsen on its own... This means that whatever causes the lower pain threshold in some people may also cause them to have chronic headaches.
The Good News - Your Headache or Migraine Pain is Likely Treatable
Research into the association of Myofascial Trigger Points & headache pain is uncovering that the probability of trigger points being part or all of the problem in the majority of headaches is likely to be high, and there are estimates that the majority of headaches are due, at least in part, to trigger points (Simons, Travell, and Simons 1999). So the great news is that you can probably relieve much or all of your headache pain with a combination of trigger point therapy and identifying and eliminating all the perpetuating factors (posture, stress, diet, hormonal imbalances etc.).
Illawarra Trigger Point Therapy’s Treatment Approach to Headaches
We have been treating headaches patients for over 20 years and have found using a combination of dry needling and manual trigger point release to be extremely effective in the treatment of headaches.
Dry needling particularly desensitises irritated & inflamed nerve receptors' surrounding a trigger point and is highly effective in treating the trigger points involved with headaches!
Recommended Reading, (Excerpts also used above) - Trigger Point Therapy for Headaches and Migraines: Your Self-Treatment Workbook for Pain Relief
Book a Trigger Point Therapy Appointment today
Book an appointment with Myofascial Trigger Point specialist Tyraus Farrelly at the Illawarra Trigger Point Therapy clinic in Unanderra
Copyright © 2015 Illawarra Trigger Point Therapy Centre. All Rights Reserved.