Headaches (Migraine, Tension, Cluster)

Loretta Bliss, LMT, CSC I Counterstrain Portland - Bliss Manual Therapy LLC
Keizer, Oregon


Migraine Headaches Migraine headaches impact more than 37 million men, women and children in the US. The World Health Organization considers migraines one of the 10 most disabling illnesses. Symptoms of migraine headaches include throbbing or pulsating head pain and eye pain. This pain is usually more noticeable on one side of the head and is often worse with physical activity. Patients also report nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light, sound, and touch. Migraines can trigger an increased sense of smell, difficulty concentrating, emotional distress, post headache fatigue, irritability, euphoria. There are two major types of migraine: without aura and with aura. Migraines without aura are more common with attacks that typically last 4-72 hours. Migraine headaches with auras as less common and usually includes visual disturbances and neurological symptoms in addition to severe head pain. Some patients may temporarily lose part or all of their vision. Aura symptoms can also include, vision changes (blurry vision), numbness, tingling in the hands and face, muscle weakness on one side of the body, dizziness, confusion, language problems, trouble finding words. Tension Headaches Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. It is estimated that 30-80% of adults suffer from Episodic Tension Headaches while 3%, mainly women suffer from Chronic Tension Headaches. Tension headaches are poorly understood and there is often no clear cause. Duration can be 30 minutes to a few days, with fluctuating levels of pain. Physical exertion does not appear to make symptoms worse and these headaches usually do not debilitate the sufferer. Symptoms of tension headaches are tenderness and tightness of the scalp, neck, jaw and shoulder muscles. Often there is pain affecting both sides of the head, starting in the forehead, and or dull painful clamping feelings of tightness around the head. There are reports of head fullness and a feeling of pressure. Sufferers can experience anxiety, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, feelings of tiredness, irritability, focusing issues, aches and pains. Cluster Headaches Cluster headaches are severely painful headaches usually centered around the eyes and temple area. Sufferers describe it as a piercing pain like a knife. Headaches occur in short bursts, 45-90 minutes. Symptoms reported are; runny nose, red, tearing and watery eyes, swelling of the face, swelling of the eyelid on the same side as the head pain, upper eyelid drooping, small pupils, puffy eyes, from facial to whole body flushing, sweating, agitation, restlessness. Migraine like symptoms usually are present including nausea, vomiting, nervous system dysfunction, aura symptoms including sensitivity to sound and light.

Fascial Counterstrain Treatment

Fascial Counterstrain uses a multi system approach to assessing and treating fascia to find the root of each person’s individual problem. With our hands we do a Cranial Scan, accessing where there is rigidity and tenderness in the surface of the skull. This gives us information about where the core fascial dysfunctions are, what system is involved (vein, artery, nerve, lymphatic, visceral or musculoskeletal), as well as what part of the body this dysfunction is in. Two clients may have the very same symptoms, but the cause can be very different. Counterstrain allows us to identify the true driver of pain and dysfunction and then treat it. When treating clearly identified areas of tension in each system; Counterstrain therapists gently shorten the offended tissue. This releases the tension pattern, allows trapped inflammatory particulate to drain clearing the pain and restoring normal function During treatment of migraine headaches Counterstrain practitioners often find restrictions or dysfunction in the periosteum (fascia covering bone) of the head and neck and dura (fascia covering the brain and spinal cord). Dysfunction in the rest of the nervous system including the cranial nerves and autonomic nervous system can also contribute to headaches. Stress, either physical or emotional based can trigger a protective response in the nerves leading to dysfunction, which could exhibit as headaches. With Counterstrain we are able to painlessly shorten the tensioned areas, achieving lasting and immediate relief. Impaired blood flow in or out of the head can also contribute to headaches so consideration of the vascular system is also vital. Veins, arteries and lymphatic vessels can have spasms in their outer layer which creates restriction of blood flow in and out of an area. Congestion of these structures could contribute to the pressurized feelings or heavy full head described by some suffering from headaches. Proper functioning of the body's vascular cleaning system is critical. After identifying the areas that are restricted, application of a gentle compression and glide will release tension that creates immediate change, releasing of pressure and congestion that affect blood flow. There is more and more information relating to the connection between the brain and the digestive system. There is evidence that the liver, colon and kidneys can contribute to headaches, particularly migraine and cluster headaches. Fascia covers all our organs, and when the restrictions in this fascia are addressed it can impact the organ function helping them to work at their optimal levels and decrease headache frequency and intensity.


Migraine Headaches: After months of struggling with constant and severe headaches and significant vision problems, including double vision and shadowed vision. I was searching for something to help me as it was dramatically affecting my everyday life. I went to see Loretta for the first time around a month ago. I had also been dealing with neck, back and shoulder problems as well as costochondritis. My issues I believe stemmed from football injuries and on duty injuries from many years in Law Enforcement. After 2- 3 hour sessions with Loretta, my pain is greatly reduced and my headaches are GONE as are my vision issues. It has been a new lease on life for me. On top of that for the last 10 years, I have not been able to eat any type of meat or dairy products. I was told the reason was due to a lack of acid to break down the protein. Thru treatment she has been able to fix this as well. I can now eat things again that I never thought I would be able to. I am very happy I found out about Counterstrain, it has improved the quality of my life dramatically. Bret Frauendiener Tension Headaches: I began treatment in Feb 2018, what a remarkable healing year it has been. Let me begin by saying that until I began receiving Counterstrain therapy I lived with severe neck pain and headaches (Tension Headaches). I thought I would have to live with that pain the rest of my life. I had been getting other therapy biweekly prior to having Counterstrain, I would get temporary relief but the symptoms would return before too long. After my first Counterstrain session; for the first time in my life my neck did not hurt, nor did I get a headache during the following three weeks. I had one last appointment scheduled with the previous type of therapy I had been using, so decided to go and see what happened. My neck pain and headaches returned and I was in pain again. The following week I had a Counterstrain session and I no longer had any neck pain or headaches, at that point I knew what helped. I can honestly say that after about 4 hours of Counterstrain work , I realized that I didn't have to live with neck pain or Tension Headaches any more. This gentle work fixes things, it doesn't just temporarily relieve them. Now a tension headache and neck pain are the exception rather than the rule. One other thing I feel is directly related to the relief that my nervous system has felt is I am much calmer and feel way less stress inside myself. I quit biting my fingernails almost immediately after I started treatment which I think was related to the stress factor. It has changed my life. I feel very grateful that a friend told me about Counterstrain! It is simply Wonderful!, Susan Clow, Salem, Oregon Migraine and Cluster Migraines: I started having migraine headaches at the age of 12. I had the aura type migraines with vision problems, numbness of my face and hands, nausea, vomiting, severe pain and sensitivity to light and sound. It was very scary as a child. I didn't know what was going on, I didn't know what caused them or how to get help. By the age of 25 I was having cluster migraines. At times they would last 5-7 days straight, it was awful. I was afraid to drive very far as I would be stranded or unsafe if I had a headache and vision problems appear. I found some relief thru the years with many different modalities. Due to all the work I have had done I don't get them very often anymore. I can say with certainty that Counterstrain made the biggest impact on them, addressing the neurological and vascular issues. With Counterstrain the restricted areas can be identified and rectified quickly. The fear isn't there anymore, I have an understanding of what is happening and there are things that can be done to remove the cause. My questions are finally answered after all those years of not knowing. I am so grateful! Loretta Bliss