By Dr Christine Fraser, Osteopath.
‘I have a headache today’. This is something that is coming up in my consult conversations more and more as the outside temperature dips. Why is this you ask? Well, there is a number of reasons: let’s break it down.
Firstly, what is a headache? A headache is any pain within or around the head and neck. There are a number of types and they can present with pain at the back or front of the head, temporals or behind the eyes. Headaches, unlike migraines, are not usually associated with visual disturbances, but they can still make you feel pretty lousy. There is still much to learn about headaches but they are most likely caused by irritation or disruption to the pain-sensitive structures near your brain, over your skull and around your neck, including blood vessels, muscles and nerves. Chemical changes around the brain, like ketosis or infection, can also bring about a headache.
How the weather may play a role? Well, there are some theories that suggest that a headache is protective and this goes for adverse environmental factors. The idea behind this is that the headache pain will cause the person to find a more hospitable environment. Any fluctuation in barometric pressure can be a stressor so, the same goes for extreme heat.
Another theory is that you increase the tension in your neck and shoulders when your cold in order to maintain your core body temperature. I’m sure you’ve been there, holding your shoulders around your ears as you’ve shivered to watch the footy or being caught without a jacket or scarf. This can lead to muscular tension and this can be the cause of those headaches. This type of posture is also common for desk workers, so this may be two fold for you!
So how to avoid them? Making sure you’re appropriately dressed for the weather can be game changers. No, your hair may not look amazing after talking your beanie off but, scarves and beanies do have their place! Warmth will also be your friend. So wheat bags, patch, hot water bottles and warm showers.
If you’re struggling with headaches, neck tension and pain during winter, make an appointment or call the centre to get some advice around beating the winter headache blues!