There is no single cause for headaches and, while they are painful and annoying, the majority of headaches do not indicate that there is a serious problem.
A study (Gutfeld, G. and Rao, L., 1992) was conducted on 42 patients suffering from chronic headaches. These patients, all of whom had responded poorly to conventional treatments, were split into two groups.
One received Hypnotherapy to relieve their daily headaches; the rest acted as a comparison group. The Hypnotherapy group experienced reduced frequency and duration of headaches, cutting the intensity by about 30%.
"These results are impressive in such a difficult, hard-to-treat group of patients," commented Egilius Spierings, M.D., Ph.D. director of the headache section, division of neurology at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
In a controlled trial conducted by OIness (1987), self-Hypnosis was shown to be significantly more effective than either propranolol or placebo in reducing the frequency of migraine headaches in children between the ages of six and twelve years of age.
In a research conducted by Schlutter (1980), Hypnosis was also found to effective in dealing with the relief of tension headache.
Headaches involve mild to severe pain in one or more parts of the head as well as the back of the neck. There are many different types of headache patterns and a variety of causes. While painful and annoying, the majority of headaches do not indicate a serious disorder and, in non-chronic cases, may be relieved by medicines and/or changes in lifestyle.
What causes headaches?
There is no single cause of headaches. A number of causes have been identified which fall into two general categories.
This type of headache results from contraction of head and neck muscles. It is the most common form of headache and accounts for 70 per cent of headaches. It can occur in people of either sex and at any age but it is most common in adults and adolescents. Tension headache usually occurs in isolated incidents but can become chronic for some people. Possible causes of muscle contraction associated with tension headaches include:
- poor posture.
- eye strain.
- tobacco and alcohol use.
- in women, hormonal changes occurring before and after a menstrual period.
Migraine is the cause of 20 per cent of all headaches. This type of headache occurs when blood vessels of the head and neck constrict, resulting in a decrease in blood flow to the vessels. Migraine is usually experienced as a throbbing pain on one side of the head with an associated feeling of sickness and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are known to affect more women than men and are often chronic. Below are some of the factors that have been identified as being associated with migraines:
- family history of migraine.
- prolonged muscle tension and stress.
- alcohol use.
- smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke.
- lack of sleep.
- for women, menstrual periods and the use of oral contraceptives.
- certain foods such as chocolate, nuts and fermented or pickled condiments, as well as foods containing the amino acid tyramine (aged cheese, red wine, smoked fish) and foods containing preservatives and artificial sweeteners.
What are the symptoms of tension and migraine headaches?
- Pain is often felt in the generalised area of the head and neck as opposed to on one side.
- Pain may also be situated in the back of the head and neck and feel like a 'tight band'.
- Sometimes accompanied by muscle tightness in back of neck.
- Of relatively short duration if treated in time.
- Throbbing, pulsating feeling usually worse on one side of the head.
- Pain may be dull or severe and often begins in the morning, gradually worsening in an hour or so.
- Pain may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, vertigo-like feeling and visual disturbances.
- Sensitivity to loud noises and light.
- Commonly lasts from a few hours to one or two days in some cases.
Research: Treatment of chronic tension-type headache with hypnotherapy: A single-blind time controlled study. Headache. 31(10). 686-689.
Melis, P. M., Rooimans, W., Spierings, E. L. and Hoogduin, C. A. (1991).
The improvement was confirmed by the subjective evaluation data gathered with the use of a questionnaire and by a significant reduction in anxiety scores.