Managing Headaches at Oki Sports And Spinal

November 24, 2023 by admin

Headaches are a universal human experience, with various types causing discomfort and disrupting daily life. In this article Okinawa Sports and Spinal aims to delve into the most common types of headaches and explore how manual therapies, including Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, and Massage, can provide relief.

Understanding Headaches

Definition and Classification

A headache is defined as pain or discomfort in the head or neck region. The International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD) categorizes headaches into primary and secondary types. Primary headaches, such as tension-type, migraine, and cluster headaches, are not associated with other medical conditions. Secondary headaches result from another condition, like sinusitis or head injury.

Before your headaches are treated at Okinawa sports and Spinal it’s important that we understand what type of Headache you have as this will affect the treatment modalities are best suited to your condition.

Types of Headaches

1. Tension-Type Headaches (TTH)

Tension-type headaches are the most common type, affecting people of all ages. They are characterized by a dull, persistent pain that feels like a tight band around the head. Stress, poor posture, and muscle tension contribute to their onset.

Tension headaches also respond best to manual therapy and are the most common types of headaches that we treat at Okinawa Sports and Spinal.

Role of Manual Therapies:

  • Chiropractic Care: Spinal adjustments and mobilizations aim to improve spinal function, reducing tension in the muscles and promoting relaxation. Many tension headaches are caused by spasm of the sub-occpital muscles and just addressing the tone on these muscles can have profound results.
  • Physical Therapy: Exercises targeting neck and shoulder muscles, along with postural correction, can alleviate tension and reduce the frequency of tension-type headaches. Our Physical therapist Kerry Staples also incorporates some trigger point and other manual therapies in his treatments.
  • Massage Therapy: Techniques like Swedish massage and trigger point therapy help release muscle tension, providing relief from tension-type headaches. Massage can actually be quite effective for tension headaches, particularly when there is a strong stress component.

2. Migraine Headaches

Migraines are recurrent, severe headaches often accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, light sensitivity, and visual disturbances. They result from abnormal brain activity and can be triggered by various factors, including hormonal changes, certain foods, and stress.

If you are getting an ” Aura ” where you can see flickering dots and disturbed vision before your headaches, not responding to standard headache medication like paracetamol, are one sided and really ” put you out of action ”  it’s likely that you have a migraine rather than just tension headaches and these need to managed a little differently than tension headaches.

Although migraines are believed to be primarily vascular we have found that neck issues are often a contributing factor. 



3. Cluster Headaches

These ones are nasty !

Cluster headaches are excruciatingly painful headaches that occur in clusters or cycles. They often involve one-sided pain around the eye and are accompanied by symptoms like nasal congestion and eye watering.

The pain is often described as ” the worst imaginable ” and also tend to affect males more commonly than females. 

The evidence for manual therapies for the management of cluster headaches is less than tension and cervicogenic headaches but we have had some positive results.


4. Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches result from inflammation of the sinuses, often due to allergies or infections. They are characterized by pain in the forehead, cheekbones, and bridge of the nose.

If you are suffering from congestion and tenderness over the cheekbone, have a history of allergies or recent infections sinus headaches are strong possibility.

When we see Sinus headaches at Okinawa Sports and Spinal we also need address the underlying cause of the inflammation. Using a salt water ” Neti pot ” is also a good co- management strategy here.

Our Chiropractor and Physical therapist also do Sinus work and some pressure work over the cranials bones as well.

5. Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches originate from the cervical spine and result in pain that radiates to the head. Poor posture, neck injuries, or cervical spine issues can contribute to their onset.

These respond very well to Chiropractic and Physical therapy mobilizations in the upper thoracic spine. 

It’s also important to address some lifestyle and postural changes when you suffer from Cervicogenic headaches. Having a work desk ergonomics assessment is good idea and also taking regular breaks from sitting have been shown to make an improvement in the frequency and duration of cervicogenic headaches. 



Manual Therapies: A Closer Look

1. Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care focuses on the relationship between the spine and the nervous system. Chiropractors use manual adjustments to restore joint function and alleviate pain.


  • A study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy was effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of tension-type headaches.
  • Another study in the European Journal of Neurology suggested that chiropractic spinal manipulation could be a safe and effective treatment option for migraines.

2. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy involves exercises, stretches, and other interventions to improve musculoskeletal function and reduce pain.


  • Research in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy indicates that physical therapy, including neck exercises and manual therapy, can be effective in managing cervicogenic headaches.
  • A systematic review in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders suggests that physical therapy interventions, such as exercise and mobilization, may be beneficial for tension-type headaches.

3. Massage Therapy

Massage therapy involves hands-on manipulation of muscles and soft tissues to enhance relaxation and alleviate pain.


  • A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that massage therapy was effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines.
  • Research in the International Journal of Neuroscience suggests that massage therapy can lead to a decrease in tension-type headaches by promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension.

Headaches are complex, multifactorial conditions that can significantly impact the quality of life. Manual therapies used down at Okinawa Sports and spinal  including Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, and Massage, offer valuable approaches to managing and alleviating various types of headaches. While the evidence supporting these therapies is promising, individual responses may vary, and a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach is often recommended for optimal results.

If you suffer from chronic headaches, it’s crucial to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable treatment plan for your specific needs. By understanding the nuances of each headache type and the potential benefits of manual therapies, individuals can make informed decisions on their journey to headache relief and improved well-being.

Okinawa Sports and Spinal is well experienced in the management of headaches and we would love the chance to help you in Okinawa manage your headaches.

If you would like to make a booking click the link below



Okinawa Sports and Spinal. Quality off-base Physical Therapy and Chiropractic
1F 1-477 Miyagi Sunabe
Chatan-Cho Okinawa

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