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Friday, February 25th, 2011

Sorry, this entry is only available in Russian.


Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Women who go out to work and girls at school may have difficulties but at least they can go home and leave their problems behind them. A woman who stays home to look after young children, elderly parents or invalids can’t do that. Her charges won’t let her. Somebody has to be there all the time and often she’s the only person available. So she soldiers on, steadily getting more and more angry, or more and more depressed, as the children or the invalids get more and more difficult.

Lack of help-The trouble is that we have changed our life-style so much in the last fifty years that nowadays almost the only people left at home all day are women who are looking after small children, elderly parents or invalids — in other words, people who have precious little time to spare to help their neighbours because they are so busy themselves. The big sisters, maiden aunts and next-door neighbours who used to help mothers at home are all out at work. And to make matters worse, families are far more mobile these days. Most of us will move house several times in the course of a marriage. Few will settle down within a few streets of their parents. So your mother could be hundreds of miles away just when you need her most. A woman at home coping with the cramps or the aching miseries can feel very isolated. There doesn’t seem to be anybody to turn to.

There is, of course. But their help might be difficult to find, especially in the early days when you’ve just left work and you haven’t got used to life at home. Your allies are the other wives and mothers who live near you and are at home looking after their children. You’ll find them in the clinics or out shopping or at gatherings of various local groups such as the Pre-School Playgroups Association, the National Childbirth Trust, Gingerbread and other clubs for young mothers. For addresses of their head offices some of the organizations listed there will have local branches and it is worth trying the phone book, the library or the information department of your town hall to see if you can track them down. You’ll have to be prepared to offer to help them when you can if they’ll help you. There’s nothing like a fellow sufferer to help you and in helping others we usually help ourselves.

If your periods are painful or you suffer from the aching miseries, you will certainly find a young baby far more difficult to handle and the chores will seem more of an effort. Try to plan ahead, so that you only have the absolute minimum to do on days when you’re off-colour or in pain — no shopping expeditions, no washing other than the baby’s nappies and smalls, no ironing, only necessary cooking (unless you enjoy it and it cheers you up) and no cleaning. It is possible to cut back for a little while, even when you’ve got several small children, although it needs quite skilled planning. And of course when you’ve found them, you can turn to your friends and neighbours. Just to have someone around who’ll hold the baby while you attend to the toddler is bliss when you have been struggling alone. And so is a second pair of eyes, to watch out for the possibility of trouble because you might be off-balance or too tired to do this yourself.

One of the advantages about being at home is that you are your own boss. If you need a quick snack, or a hot water bottle, you can have it immediately. Getting the rest you need is more of a problem, especially if you have toddlers to contend with, or a baby who doesn’t seem to sleep. So if a neighbour offers to take them off your hands for a little while, make good use of the time and go to bed and sleep as long as you can. And always remember what a great help relaxation can be. If you are relaxed, you are not wasting any of your precious energy; you are also reducing your tension and keeping yourself calmer than you would otherwise be. Again I can’t stress too much that you. Should confide in your husband or partner and enlist his aid whenever possible.



Friday, March 20th, 2009

Tinnitus is an internal noise in the ear, generally described as buzzing, whistling, ringing, roaring or hissing. It may be constant or intermittent and is often accompanied by deafness.

It is worthwhile allowing a chiropractor/osteopath to see if your cervical spine is in any way involved. We have had some successes with this condition, especially at the onset of the trouble.

Some years ago, I went through this distressing sensation myself. I was astounded when I discovered that on lying down, I had a most annoying noise inside my head that I couldn’t lose no matter what I did! Several neck treatments later, over a period of six weeks, the noises subsided.

Other causes have proved to be a malocclusion of the jaw and another is a need for cranial adjusting as the temporal suture is stressed. All of these causes are well worth exploring.

Employers are now supplying ear protectors for those people exposed to industrial noise, such as jack hammering, which can bring on the trouble, as can the sound of a close-range gunshot or the noise level of rock concerts .Young people, however, are rarely sensible about protection from the extremely loud popular music today. Nerve damage is permanent and has to be prevented. We must become responsible for looking after ourselves.



Friday, March 20th, 2009

If there is the added complication of brachial neuritis, this is best handled by an adjustment of the joint where the nerve irritation is located, together with localised therapy in the elbow.

Epicondylitis is an inflammation of a part of the elbow. It is not an easy pain to treat as the muscle inserts into the bone (called the humerus) at this point. The fibres are torn at the very part that should be strong to take the weight of lifting.

The injury is best supported by an elastic guard as you seem to bump it at every turn. Certainly I use acupuncture but the therapy takes quite a long time. It requires the co-operation of the patient so that the area does not become aggravated by overuse.

People are so impatient with this injury. Repetitive action can bring it on. The classic case is the tennis coach who says, ‘Right, let’s just work on your backhand.’ Twenty minutes later, pain is a reality. Another cause of this condition is when a player changes the tennis racquet weight without adequate prior strengthening of the forearm muscles. Car mechanics can also get into trouble, as can anyone who does intricate jobs using the forearm muscles in awkward movements. So you see, it is not only suffered by tennis players. Cortisone injection, commonly used, is such a cruel treatment for this condition. Initially, the cause of the pain should be diagnosed. There could be several problems, needing slightly different therapies.

Osteopathic adjustment of any rotated muscles in the forearm can be initiated straight away. Only after therapy is completed do we give strengthening exercises. If exercises are given first, it often prolongs the healing time.

Acupuncture is a gentle start to treatment, and often few visits are needed. Ultrasound is another soothing therapy, popular with my patients over the years. It is a deep heat that comforts and starts healing the torn muscle fibres. By all means use an elastic supporting elbow guard if you insist on using the elbow. But don’t allow this sort of help to delay the correct treatment.



Friday, March 20th, 2009

Such a long word for the jaw! But most joints are named after a combination of the two bones that articulate with each other.The mandible is the jaw bone and the temporal bone is above the ear. Put them together and what have you got? The TMJ.

When we chew, it should be an even action of both sides. Trouble starts when the teeth are out of alignment and don’t sit comfortably on top of each other. It can happen through a fist fight, or a hit on the side of the head in a car accident.

The result of this joint being out of alignment can be devastating. Headaches certainly, a spaced out sensation, memory loss, ‘clicking’ in the jaw, snoring, temporal neuralgia, tinnitus, earache, poor concentration, unexplained eye trouble. Tooth fillings can inexplicably fracture due to the exertion of uneven pressure.

The sight of people putting up with gaps in their teeth gives me the horrors as I imagine what is happening to their mouth and head. The suffering they will go through concerns me greatly as the teeth move and other symptoms develop which are difficult to diagnose.

My advice is to ask your chiropractor to assess your spine. If all is well there, then ask for a referral to a dentist who has done the extra study. Not all of them are skilled in this area. (Beware of the dentist who decides to drill the teeth down instead of building up the opposite side. It can jam the jaw into a worse state.) Sometimes a mouth plate at night is all that is needed. Your chiropractor will refer you to the dentist of his choice, as he needs to work in partnership with him.

Acupuncture relaxes all the muscles in this area, as do hot packs or towels. The joint can be gently adjusted by several techniques simply and speedily. But the expert chiropractor/osteopath needs to assess the TMJ first.

Recently a lady came in with a painful jaw. She had bent over to lift up her three-year-old. He had, in the joyful exuberance of youth, jumped up at the same time and ‘collected’ her on the jaw as perfectly as any boxer. She saw stars and had to sit down with tears in her eyes.

The treatment was simple: adjusting her neck back into alignment and applying dry heat to the jaw before freeing it up. A bit of acupuncture and a lot of sympathy – a similar incident had happened to me when my son was an energetic


Headaches can occur if you chew on one side of your mouth only, or suffer from a clicky jaw.

Peter’s story-A few year’s ago I began to experience headaches at fairly regular intervals, usually at weekends, and occasionally on Mondays. At first I thought they were just random occurrences and any concern unwarranted. However after several weeks of this, I began to wonder. It was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and I noticed that the headaches were accompanied by neck pain, especially when I bent my head back. The overall feeling was as if someone had hit me on the head with a baseball bat.

Moreover I was also being disturbed by loss of appetite and a feeling of biliousness. On some occasions I was forced to He down and be as still as possible.

I had various tests for failing eyesight, strange lumps in my brain or was it just ingrown toenails? But I was generally pronounced fit with rarely even a cold to complain about, and 20/20 eyesight.

At the time a friend was visiting a chiropractor getting his neck straightened. It sounded like torture but seemed to give him relief from headaches. Stupidly, I just let the message go over my head. I began to get used to having this pain once a week and accepted it, by popping the odd headache tablet.

However, my wife got sick of my moans and groans, and after I started suffering a chronic build-up of stress, finally packed me off to her chiropractor.

Acupuncture immediately relieved my stress and I began telling about my

long-standing headaches. My neck was examined and it was found that the muscles were as stiff as old canvas. They began to loosen up as soon as my neck was adjusted. It made sense that my headaches were due to strained neck muscles as the pain had radiated from there and localised at the left eye.

I also remembered that a few years earlier I’d had several teeth removed from both jaws and these were replaced by plastic teeth. This confirmed that a loss of the ‘true bite’ was responsible initially and that the only permanent cure would be to have the bite corrected.

The chiropractor referred me to a dentist specialising in temporomandibular dysfunction and he gave me the full treatment. He traced the pain areas, and measured my lack of bite in relation to where my teeth were.

He concluded after lots of checks that my mouth was out of ‘whack’ and definitely contributing to the pain. He reset the plastic teeth on my denture and, after remoulding my plate to a more comfortable bite, I noticed that my headaches reduced immediately and soon disappeared altogether.

TEAR DUCT (BLOCKED)-The treatment for this condition doesn’t have to be surgery. Success has been achieved by seeing if there is a neck strain that needs an adjustment. Sometimes the problem can be solved with acupuncture. There is an ear point called ‘internal secretion’ that literally ‘turns off the tap’. It can also be reversed to turn on the tap. People generally wouldn’t think to consult a natural therapist for this condition but often it is the simplest solution.

One lady, treated with this problem, couldn’t believe how much better she felt generally, as well as having her tear duct unblocked in a couple of treatments.



Friday, March 20th, 2009

It should be remembered that sinusitis is only a symptom and that an overview must be obtained. In my experience, often all that’s needed is a neck adjustment, and the sinuses drain immediately. Cranial adjusting (internal mouth adjustments) is often used to free the sinuses and drain the antrums.

Acupuncture is effective for sinusitis using some needles in the ear and around the nose and neck. But eliminating any structural cause is important in the long run. Feel your neck for tenderness or soreness.

Sinusitis attacks can be caused by intolerance to dairy products and wheat breads. Then there is the sinusitis caused by allergic reactions:

There was a case where a man had severe sinusitis after being around glues in his factory. He didn’t have to sell up to solve the problem. We raised his immune response. His successful treatment involved high doses of vitamin A, calcium ascorbate, zinc and the herbs hydrastis, horseradish, fenugreek, and garlic. These were taken for three months and now the aroma of the glues hardly affects him. A low resistance has to be built up slowly.

Another allergenic reaction:

I was surprised once by the case of a lady almost drowning in her own phlegm at night. I tried all I knew. I was baffled. Then she rang and told me that as soon as the doctor changed her high blood pressure tablets, her sinuses dried up overnight!



Friday, March 20th, 2009

It is important to understand that the shoulder is the most mobile of all the joints in our body, but it pays the price by being the easiest to dislocate or sprain. It is really a girdle and it depends on many muscles working together for its stability.

When the shoulder is hurt, it is not a simple task to realign all the soft tissue involved. Chiropractors check for neck faults as the nerves from there supply important muscles and tissue through the shoulder and down the arm. A neck adjustment if needed shortens treatment time considerably.

Many a painful incident can make an amusing story.

I’m thinking of Judy who went up into the roof to haul down a trapped possum. Trying to handle the frightened, aggressive animal, she slipped through the girders of the roof. Her daughter was highly amused at the sight of her mother hanging by the shoulders, feet dangling into the living room below. She pulled her mum out by the arms while breaking up with laughter.

It took several treatments to reposition her painful shoulder muscles, Judy’s husband, although normally a loving man, was not amused by the hole in the ceiling, and had little sympathy for the suffering wife. This was an acute injury that responded well to immediate therapy.

The dangers of delayed treatment.

A sixty-year-old woman, living alone, presented with a painful shoulder that she suffered for nine months, during which time she had been given the best medical care.

First the doctor had given her an anti-inflammatory tablet which she took religiously for weeks even though her stomach had reacted to them. Then she had two months of heat-pack treatments from a physiotherapist. Finally she had visited an orthopaedic specialist who had (thankfully) said that the joint was too bad for an operation.

On assessing her shoulder joint, I was appalled to find that months of futile treatment had allowed her shoulder girdle to waste. The muscles at the front of the shoulder into the ribs were wasted as were those of the shoulder itself, together with the muscles at the back of the rib cage.

She was a dejected mess, physically and psychologically. She couldn’t fasten her bra at the back or lift her arm to comb her hair and it was near impossible to take her dress off over her head. She couldn’t do so many of the little things that make life acceptable. She was depressed and in constant pain.

I assured her that to continue to move the shoulder was important. We started osteopathic treatment which meant encouraging blood flow to all the muscle fibres between the ribs and down the arm.

All the neck muscles had to be worked and drained of acids accumulated in the tissue through lack of adequate movement. Strapping the shoulder for three days each week was a great comfort and stopped the grating sound that made her feel distressed and insecure. That aided greatly in her healing over her six weeks of therapy. Without pain, she was then able to keep moving the arm to develop the muscles again on her own.

With the kind of treatment described above, it is normal for the tissues to secrete lactic and uric acid residue resulting in a rash.

Invariably, the patient will say, ‘Am I allergic to your oils?’ The answer is no, as the non-itchy skin reaction indicates the muscles are eliminating waste products and the soreness is decreasing. Movement is then easier, and we are on our way.

Understand that muscles do more than just move joints and stimulate blood supply: they also drain away the waste products by muscle action. If not, accumulation occurs and calcium is deposited. Also the joint can dry out if it is not nourished. Using a hot pack only for months is soothing but not curative and an operation to scrape the bone is better prevented if possible.

A difficult case sees me using acupuncture and moxibustion. After acupuncture, the look on the patient’s face as they leave with a warm moveable joint makes the effort worthwhile. The needles are inserted in the hand, elbow and shoulder with great effect in relieving the pain. Heat helps in this instance.

Every therapy helps. Homoeopathies recommended are:

Bryonia for those who feel better for rest.

Hypericum for pain from injured nerves.

Rhus tox for joints that are better for movement.

There are many others depending on the patient’s personality and individuality.



Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

We need to start by dispelling a few myths about migraine. This important point was mentioned earlier: Migraine is not just a. severe headache: it is a special type of headache. Nor is it necessarily a severe headache; many sufferers have relatively minor headaches, but the associated symptoms indicate that without doubt they are suffering from migraine.

Another misconception is that those with migraine are frequently incapacitated by it. While this may be true for severe cases, there are many who have an attack only once or twice a year. There are also many others whose attacks are not severe or disabling enough to prevent them working. This doesn’t mean that those who have frequent severe attacks of migraine are putting it on – far from it. The headache of migraine is one of the worst types of pain known to man, and in its fullest form is completely incapacitating.

Attitudes towards migraine vary according to which part of society you are in. Some groups of society think that migraine is an intellectual’s disease. Other groups believe that migraine is a manifestation of psychiatric illness. Both attitudes are wrong! Migraine attacks people of all socio-economic groups. There is no link with having a high IQ and no direct link with being neurotic (though quite understandably, people with frequent severe migraines can become anxious or depressed as a result).

Perhaps the most surprising fact of all about migraine is that probably only fifty per cent of people suffering from it have ever consulted their doctor about it. Almost more remarkable is that a very large percentage of patients with migraine only ask their doctors about it once, and then don’t go back. It seems that many migraine sufferers don’t realise what can be done for them and resign themselves, unnecessarily, to their fate.

The point of all this is quite simple – the medical profession can now do a great deal to curb developing migraine attacks and to prevent attacks occurring. If you haven’t yet consulted your doctor about your migraines, then please do, because it may make a considerable difference to the quality of your life.



Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Of course, your doctor will diagnose your headaches in a slightly different way, because he or she has the advantage of being able to examine you as well.

However, don’t be misled. Many patients think (wrongly) that the examination tells the doctor everything, and that a diagnosis without one means it’s probably wrong. In fact, almost the reverse is true. With headaches it is mainly careful, painstaking questioning that leads to the most accurate diagnosis. Perhaps your doctor finds out the critical information that the headache came on suddenly, like a blow to the back of the head; or else that the headache comes on if you miss a meal; or, maybe, there’s a background of marital discord or stress at work. It’s a bit like detective work, piecing information together until it all clicks into place.

Having said this, the importance of the physical examination should be stressed, because there are one or two items that your doctor will certainly want to check. What the doctor examines will vary according to the answers you’ve given to the

questions asked. For example, if the history is highly suggestive of sinusitis, then your doctor may only need to press on the bone overlying the sinus to confirm the diagnosis. A thorough examination of the muscles or nerves would be unnecessary. On the other hand, these will need to be examined if your story points towards a slipped disc in the neck.

The sort of examination your doctor gives you depends upon the symptoms and the history. Some or all of the following may be necessary – blood pressure measured, temperature taken, examination of the movements of your neck to see if you can bend your neck properly, not just forwards but also from side to side. You may be examined for trigger spots and painful areas in the muscles of the neck and back, and your spine may be checked. Your doctor may also examine your temples – to discover whether or not there are prominent pulses and tender arteries -investigate the power you can develop in your arms and legs, tap your reflexes, and even tickle the bottom of your feet! (This is a very quick way to tell whether you have had a stroke or a similar brain injury.) Finally, your doctor may look into your eyes, test your pupil reflexes, press against the bones in your face to see if they’re tender, look at your teeth, and check the way your mouth closes.

The combination of history-taking, examination and appropriate prescription may deal with your headaches fully. As we discussed earlier, your response to the treatment is also an important diagnostic pointer. In just a few cases the doctor may be unsure of the diagnosis and under those circumstances will use the resources of the hospital laboratory and X-ray department.



Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

‘Diagnose first, treat second.’ This statement may appear obvious, but it’s very easy to make the mistake of treating symptoms (such as pain or nausea) without getting to the root of the condition or disease causing the symptoms. Treatment is much more effective if there is an accurate initial diagnosis!

It’s all too easy to treat a headache with a couple of aspirins, without stopping to think why that headache is occurring. Then, when the headache doesn’t go away, you can’t help but wonder if you should increase the dose … and then you’ve fallen neatly into the trap. Diagnose first, treat second means that you stop to think before you reach for those painkillers, even on the first occasion.

However, diagnosing the cause of your headache may not always be easy, because there can be so much overlap between symptoms. For example, headaches caused by neck problems can sometimes imitate a migraine; temporal arteritis (an inflammation of the arteries in the forehead) can produce a headache similar to one that has arisen from tension; and arthritis in the neck can mimic tension headaches. Unfortunately, there are few hard and fast diagnostic rules: knowing the site or type of pain may not be enough to tell you its cause. Accurate diagnosis of the source of your headaches will probably depend not upon one specific symptom, but on carefully balancing the importance of a number of different symptoms and observations.

Here lies a trap for the amateur doctor! When reading a medical book like this, it’s all too easy to come up with the worst possible diagnosis, and then force your own symptoms to fit it. This is the ‘medical student syndrome’. When medical students start to learn about disease they often try to self-diagnose their own aches and pains – usually with disastrous results. Every medical school health centre has a constant trickle of students who have convinced themselves (usually erroneously) that they are about to die from some dreadful disease.

Nevertheless, do make sure that you consult your doctor about your fears. He will be able to see things in a much more balanced light. It is, of course, possible that you are right in your suspicions – but the vast probability is that you won’t be, so don’t worry unnecessarily.

The last thing you should do is use this book in isolation, self-diagnosing your own headaches and then blithely self-medicating yourself. If you’re having trouble with headaches and you haven’t been to your doctor, then make an appointment, discuss your problems and ask for advice. By all means use this book to point yourself in the right direction. And if you’re worried that you have a particular disease, do specifically mention it to your doctor. Once you have discussed the situation and, if necessary, had an examination, listen to the diagnosis and take note of the advice. Doctors have the knowledge, the experience and the objectivity to treat you properly. It’s hard to be objective when the patient is yourself!

So let’s get down to working out what might be the underlying cause of your particular headache.

Although the site of the pain and its pattern can often point to a particular diagnosis, in practice it doesn’t always work out that way; the same source of headache doesn’t produce identical types of pain in everyone. For example, tension headaches often produce pain in the forehead, or a feeling of pressure over the top of the skull. On the other hand, some muscle-tension headaches can produce pain centring over one eye (a type of pain which is more usually associated with migraine). So how do you know which is which?

Because headaches can be so variable there is no one symptom which allows us to make a firm diagnosis. Instead, it’s a matter of finding the pattern of illness which seems to fit most of the facts. The type of pain may point towards two or three possible diagnoses; the time it comes on may point to a slightly different set of possibilities; the things that start it off, to a third group of alternatives; and the accompanying symptoms to a fourth.; put them all together and you may find a single diagnosis which is common to all these groups, and it is this diagnosis which should be top of your list of possible causes.

Obviously, it’s nice if everything points in the same direction – and doctors do like to try to make one diagnosis which covers all the symptoms. On the other hand, this isn’t always possible in the case of headaches.

Because the symptoms of headaches are so variable, rather than producing just one flow chart to identify the cause of your headaches, I’ve created several diagnostic charts and lists. Work through them one after the other. If you get some common answers then you’re probably heading in the right direction. On the other hand, if you get a group of different possibilities it can mean one of several things:

•    Perhaps the source of your headache is producing symptoms in a less common way

•    Maybe you’ve got more than one cause for your headache

•    The possible causes of your headache may need to be sorted out by doing some special tests, for which you will need to see your doctor.

Armed with your answers, consult the relevant chapter of this book, describing the causes of headaches in much greater detail. You may well find that this extra detail allows you to pinpoint the cause of your headache more accurately.

But what if you can’t? Well, don’t forget that several causes of headache can be operating at the same time. Be prepared to have one main diagnosis and one (or even two) secondary diagnoses. It’s quite common to find that causes of headaches multiply together – so a patient whose headaches are caused mainly by arthritis of the neck may also find her headaches are made worse by stress and tension; migraine and tension headaches often work together in this way, too; and someone with high blood pressure may also, quite coincidentally, have a bad neck from an old whiplash accident.

But diagnosis doesn’t stop here. There is a further diagnostic tool: if the treatment works it confirms the diagnosis. (That is assuming, of course, that the treatment is not a catch-all method such as taking high doses of painkillers.) Similarly, if a specific treatment doesn’t work, it may mean that the diagnosis is not as accurate as you supposed. However, this advice needs to be handled with care, because people don’t always respond to the same treatment in the same way. For example, many migraine sufferers find great relief by using metoclopramide (together with a simple painkiller); others find this of no help at all, and prefer one of the ergotamine preparations. The response to treatment can help us to confirm the diagnosis, but it isn’t always specific.

To sum up, try to look at the overall picture and see where it all leads -symptoms, signs, tests and response to treatment. If the majority of answers point in the same direction, you should look up the details of this illness; only if you find no clear answers should you look at the alternatives.



Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Of the symptoms that concern patients most, headaches come high on the list. Headaches are the most common cause of pain seen by family doctors, and although only a small percentage are due to any serious disorder, the fear of underlying disease causes a great deal of anxiety, especially among those who’ve suffered from headaches for a long time.

Although the vast majority of headaches aren’t dangerous, a few are due to serious underlying disease; and the remainder may not go away unless you do something to prevent them. The trouble is, how can you be sure which is which? It’s not always easy.

Even when you know the cause of your headaches, there are still many problems. Your headaches may not be lethal, but they still hurt; they’re frustrating; they’re an inconvenience; they may stop you working properly; and for those who have recurring headaches, coping with the pain and trying to prevent further attacks can be a sizeable and exhausting problem.

Most headaches are like this: not always sinister, but always painful, debilitating and frustrating – a real spoil-sport of a complaint, interfering with both work and pleasure. Sometimes your GP or a specialist can help; for example, in the case of migraine, where a wide range of drugs is now available both to treat the attacks, and to stop further ones occurring.

But, at other times, orthodox medicine seems to have less to offer: there may be no serious underlying cause, but that doesn’t mean the headaches will necessarily go away. Often headaches are related to aspects of your lifestyle that your doctor has little or no knowledge of – the type of pillow you use; your dentures; the car you drive; or the lighting conditions at work.

Sometimes your doctor is able to reassure you that there is nothing seriously wrong and that you ‘only’ have a tension headache. Unfortunately, this doesn’t take away the pain, but it does leave you confused, thinking it’s your fault you’ve got headaches, yet perhaps not wanting to bother the doctor any further.

Many patients with chronic headaches end up like this – suffering, but not always able to get any real, lasting or satisfying help, and puzzled because what seems to trigger off the headaches on one occasion doesn’t always trigger them off on another.

In short, headaches can be a real pain – and that’s where this book comes in. We’ll show you why you’re getting headaches, explain what is going on, and, most importantly, tell you what you can do to stop them. And believe me, there’s a lot that can be done.

Let’s get things straight from the start – a headache is a symptom, not a disease. Headaches can occur for many different reasons and each type needs to be treated according to its cause. A few of the underlying causes are dangerous – meningitis or stroke, for example. Headaches like these need prompt diagnosis and treatment. But don’t become alarmed; most headaches aren’t life-threatening, just painful and annoying. If you’ve suffered from headaches for a long time it’s much more likely that your headache is unpleasant, without being serious. On the other hand, it’s very important to sort out which kind of headache you have, and to make sure that if urgent treatment is needed, you get it.

We all know people who say they’ve never had a headache in their lives. Lucky, aren’t they? For many others, a headache is merely an occasional annoyance -unpleasant, but nothing more. Unfortunately, some people are affected much more than this. Either they get headaches more often, or their headaches are so intense and debilitating that they affect the quality of their life. It’s no joke to have regular migraines. With a headache of this intensity work is impossible and enjoyment out of the question. The knowledge that next week may bring the start of another attack merely adds to the unpleasantness.

A few statistics will show the extent of the problem. Nineteen out of twenty of us get headaches at some time or other. Men and women of all races are equally affected, but, interestingly, older people seem to get them less often. Every fortnight, one in four of us will have a headache bad enough to need painkillers. One in three attacks begins at work, and headaches are a common cause of absenteeism. At least one third of migraine sufferers have to stop work when an attack begins, and most migraine sufferers think that their quality of work and their careers have suffered as a result of their migraines.

Most headaches are caused by one of three things: minor viral infections, migraines and tension. Because minor headaches (those that respond quickly to painkillers) are so common, most of us don’t go to the doctor when we get one; but of those patients whose headaches are serious or persistent enough to make them consult their GP, one in five will be referred to hospital.

As well as being painful, and in some cases debilitating, headaches are upsetting. If you frequently suffer from headaches, there may be a nagging thought at the back of your mind. Is this the tip of the iceberg? What does it mean? Is there something seriously wrong? Uncle Jim had a headache and he was dead in three months from a brain tumour. How do I know I haven’t got one, too?

Even if the cause of your headaches has been sorted out satisfactorily, there is still the problem of living with the frequent pain and the disruption to your lifestyle that they can cause. What do you do when you have migraines associated with your menstrual cycle, when you know that every month you’ll have another three days of misery, vomiting your guts out, with what feels like a piledriver inside your head threatening to split your brain apart? How do you cope emotionally with this, never mind hold down a job, with the frequent absences from work that having migraines implies?

And what about the man or woman who gets frequent tension headaches? Knowing that they’re ‘only’ caused by tension helps – to a point. At least you know you’re not dying. Small consolation, because you often feel as though you are, with that nagging pain that goes on for days at a time, apparently totally resistant to painkillers. Nothing the doctor gives seems to help, except perhaps tranquillisers. How do you feel about being on those all the time? Or not having the tranquillisers, and getting the pain instead? Is there an alternative?

If you have recurrent headaches, then this book is for you. It will help you to sort out what’s likely to be causing them; why headaches like yours occur; and what you can do to stop them. With patience, most headaches can be treated very effectively. Some are helped by orthodox medical or surgical treatment, others with self-help techniques; some can be alleviated with complementary therapies, and some types of headache are best treated using a combination of all three methods.