Osteopathic Health Centre Blog

  

Natural Help for Teenagers with Headaches
Thursday, 17 October 2013 16:16

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I was really interested to read a review of some recent American research on 83 adolescents diagnosed with chronic tension-type headaches which found that they benefited more from a combination of osteopathy, mindfulness and Qi Gong than from taking pain killers.

These young people suffer badly; not only are they in pain but their schoolwork can be affected as well as their social lives. The author of this study, Dr Peter Przekop, is quoted as saying ‘I don’t want them on medications, which is always a problem in kids because their brain is changing and developing until 22 to 26 years. Centrally acting medications can affect this development.’

Over the 6-month period of the study, the frequency of headaches decreased from 23.9 to 16.4 in the drug treated group (gabapentin or amitriptyline) and from 22.3 to 4.9 in the non-drug treated group. As well as receiving osteopathic treatment, the teens in the experimental group were taught 6 simple movements of Qi Gong to practice each day and instructed on mindfulness to get in touch with what they were feeling inside, breathing and to ‘stop the story going on their head’.

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This all makes great sense to me and as an osteopath it supports how I aim to work with my patients. Teenagers with headaches often have poor posture which can be due to many things including self esteem issues or anxiety through to sitting for too many hours in front of computer screens combined with insufficient exercise. The manual skills of osteopathy can help with these postural issues but are often best supported by the young person’s involvement in their recovery through exercise and awareness, both physically and emotionally.

An approach, which encompasses these contributing factors, will address the root causes of problems rather than just treating the symptoms. Mindfulness exercises work hand in hand through all of this; being aware of the present moment can stop our thoughts and feelings from spiralling into regrets or anger about the past or fear and anxiety about the future. Training in these techniques has been shown in studies to help with chronic physical pain and some mental health illnesses.

American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM) 24th Annual Clinical Meeting. Abstract # 25. Presented September 27th, 2013.