My eight-year-old son suffers from migraines. The local hospital advised us to cut out chocolate, cheese, cola and yeast extract from his diet. We did this immediately, but he still gets a headache about twice a month. Painkillers help, but I wonder whether cranial osteopathy would be suitable. He had a traumatic birth, resulting in a fast, forceps delivery.
Migraines usually start around puberty; they are rare in children. I wonder if your son is suffering from headaches rather than migraines. Migraine comes from the words ‘hemi’, meaning half, and ‘crania’, meaning skull, signifying that migraines are always one-sided. Atypical migraine, which can be very distressing, lasts for more than 24 hours and is accompanied by symptoms that include: * an aura –visual disturbance preceding an attack * a premonition – you know the attack is going to come* sensitivity to light or sound, so bad you want to shut yourself away *nausea and vomiting.
Your child’s rapid birth and forceps delivery is the most likely cause of his problem, because the skull often gets squashed and the neck damaged as the baby’s head goes rapidly through the birth canal. Forceps can also damage the skull and neck. This results in the vertebrae of the neck becoming misaligned. When that happens, blood flow to the brain is affected because the vertebral arteries, which run through a pair of bony, fibrous canals inside the vertebrae, get squashed. The neck muscles can also get tight, because of the stress and tension, and this results in further restriction of blood flow.
Another potential problem concerns the vital supply of glucose and oxygen to the brain. The brain is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid, which circulates glucose and oxygen. The skull contracts and expands a dozen times or so each minute to push the fluid round, but tight neck muscles and misaligned skull bones can disrupt this process. The result is that the brain doesn’t get enough glucose and begins to hurt.
There are several other possible causes of headaches, such as grinding teeth at night. This traumatizes the jaw joints located in front of the ear loge, and they can get very sore. The pain them radiates out to the temples and causes a severe headache. Blocked sinuses, which don’t necessarily involve a runny nose, may also be the trigger. These are generally felt in the front of the head. They tend to be worse in the mornings, and also in the sun.
Other causes include food allergies, dehydration, constipation, low blood pressure and eye strain due to sight problems. I’m sure your doctor had checked for these, and also the unlikely possibility of a tumour on the brain. It’s also possible to suffer rebound headaches from painkillers: the brain likes the analgesia and creates a headache to get more of it.
When your son had had a checkup with your doctor, I suggest the following general treatment
*Cranial osteopathy is very useful; Vicky Vlachonis at the Integrated Medical Centre had successfully treated scores of people with headaches.
*Drink at least six glasses of still, pure water daily. between meals.
*Eat fresh, wholesome preferably organic food.
*Avoid citrus fruit, chocolate and sugary food, cheese, ice cream, fizzy drinks, Marmite, canned and fast food.
*Get your son to lie in his back, then massage the sides of his neck and shoulders with a little Lifestyle Oil for five minutes every other night at bedtime. Then put a towel flat under his head with your hands underneath cupping his head. Now ask him to breath gently and regularly, and pull his head gently away from his shoulders. The gentle traction will relieve the headache and help him to sleep well.
*Check for blocked sinuses by pressing the points at the inner edge of his eyebrows. Soreness means the sinuses are congested. Put two drops of Sinus Oil in each nostril at bed time.
*Check his jaw joints in front of his ear. If they are tender, massage regularly.
*Make sure he sleeps on one soft pillow and only spends a short time daily at a computer.
*Practise therapeutic yoga with your son, particularly the cobra, semi-bridge and swing poses. These are explained in my book Therapeutic Yoga, co-written with Jiwan Brar. I also recommend joining a local class.