Friday, February 2, 2007

Post Massage Headache

So here's the question. Do you believe a headache after a massage is caused by "toxins", or possibly by compression on the nerves and blood supply tho the brain? Which sounds more likely?


Geoffrey Bishop said...

I don't know if this is blogger etiquite, but I'm responding to my own question in the hopes I can figure this out. Deal is however, I think I know the answer. And no I did not figure this out on my own.

The day before yesterday I had a massage, rather a hot stone therapy, it was a gift so I went with it. The therapist was moving right along, rather quickley, with way to much oil and way to little pressure and way to little specificity, when suddenly she put a palm on my occipital ridge and one on my sacrum. She proceeded to do a near high volocity thrust with both hands giving me slight rotation to the left in the cervicle spine and stuffing my head and face into the face rest of the massage table.

Two minutes after the head face smash, I got up with a pounding headache. When she asked me how I felt, I said I had a headache. She explained how the hot stones move toxins and I should drink plenty of water and bring up my blood sugar with some food. This was an hour and fifteen minute treatment mind you, not a half day.

I often do eight hour days of massage with no significant headache. Actually I never get headaches, I have 90 degrees rotation side to side in the neck, a bit tight on full extension, no sweat with lateral flexion or flexion. Basically no problems with neck range of motion. My nutrition is ample and I may run a bit dehydrated in the evening. But never headaches. Now I've had one for two days.

I think someone tweeked my neck. With exsessive force in left rotation I feel my Right side was jammed at the O/A joint or C2-3. There is a big blood supply there, not to mention a major nerve innervation. Tne blood supply runs up these little holes on the side of the spine to C2 then turns toward the back side and runs up onto the skull. With too much rotation to the left, the right side comes to be stretched in the artery, giving less room for bloodflow and I get a big headache.

Well, I'm off to move my head and work the deep stuff, and move slow.

MMKate said...

I had a "toxic" headache after a massage class in which I spent 90 minutes as the guinea pig for 2-3 people to practice on simultaneously (not the norm - regular class turned into a make-up class for two of the guys). I was actually more nauseous than anything.

My neck was pretty much the only area NOT worked on. I drink plenty of water, but hadn't had a full massage in years - just the odd 20-30 mins in a learning environment. Now the only kind of massage I get for that length of time is Thai.

I am typically very headache-prone, and I've narrowed it down to 2 causes: air pressure (airplane trips, stormy weather, altitude) and C1-C2 being out of place more often than they're ever in place. But I could be wrong.

geoB said...

Thanks for the note. Sorry to hear about the experience in class.

I often perform 90 minute massage/bodywork/Myoskeletal sessions. Armed with the understanding of the complexity of the upper cervical complex, my clients typically do not complain of post massage headache. There may be a few toxic people running around out there, but not a majority of the population. In basic Swedish massage class students are often encouraged to sort of play it off, recommend the client drink more water.

In a case like yours, I suspect not working on the neck at all in 90 minutes may have allowed some "drag" on the tissue to remain in the cervical spine, perpetuating the misalignment of C1-2? It may sound cliche`, but the human body is certainly "all connected". Look at Ida Rolf's analogy of the fabric of a sweater. Pull on one string at the bottom of the sweater and it can affect the placement of the strings around the collar.

Thai massage is a wonderful modality, at the same time, if in that 90 minutes the cervicals are left untouched, I wonder if the results would be similar? Please don't write off all the other talented, informed bodyworkers out there!
Stay in touch,

Anonymous said...

We don't recommend performing upper cervical neck work until the spinal biomechanics of this very complex area is well understood.

The upper cervical complex is a marvelous structure which safely houses the notocord during embroylogical development and is instrumental in development of the central nervous system...ERIK DALTON

Any mal-alignment in this area can set off tonic neck reflexes that travel down intersegmental pathways creating pain and dysfunction below.

According to Bogdul and Marsland's studies of facet joint referral pain patterns, they found that head and upper neck pain is primarily causes by facet jaming at the O-A, A-A and C2-3 (Geoffrey's problem).

Of course, we must also be aware of compression disorders of neurovascular structures hidden beneath the posterior occipitoatlantal membrane. These well-known major pain generators are primarily caused by tension, trauma & poor posture.

Anonymous said...

I just love head massage, I don't care much about the headache after wards, it really relaxes my mind!


tennisplayer said...

i'm a keen tennis player and ocassionally have back and neck massages as this area often gets tight. two weeks ago i had a vigorous 1 hour back massage. as you said - my face was pressed firmly into the headrest during the massage. i could feel alot of pressure being applied. afterwards i felt like i had taken Rohypnol! ..the next day i felt drowsy and lethergic. people have been telling me i'm fighting a virus though i have no temperature at all! I have not felt quite right since. I strongly now believe I have increased ICP!! .. Is this possible? i quite slim, so perhaps excessive pressure up my back and neck can make hugely significant blood flow changes? .. how do you feel now?

Anonymous said...

I had a headache today after 60 massage but in addition to that my ears seemed very plugged and kept popping. Any reference...