How can physiotherapists help with headaches?
Can a physiotherapist help with a headache? You might be surprised to learn that the answer is yes! It just depends on what type of headache you’re experiencing – and there are a lot more than you might think!
Headache is one of the most common illnesses, with around 15 per cent of us taking painkillers for a headache at any given time. Because headaches are so common, most people think they are a normal part of life. However, a persistent headache is a sign that something is wrong. The continual use of pain medication to combat headaches is akin to removing the warning light that alerts you to a problem in your car! Medication doesn’t solve your headache, it simply offers a short term solution to dull the pain.
There are more than 150 types of headache! What type you’re experiencing depends on the cause, the symptoms, the location and how often they occur.
Some of the most common headaches include:
Tension headache: Usually caused by tension in the muscles of the shoulders, neck or face, tension headaches usually give a sensation of pressure all the way around the head, and can cause nausea and light sensitivity.
Sinus headache: These headaches are usually felt as deep, constant pain in your forehead, as well as your cheekbones and/or the bridge of your nose. Caused by sinus infections, they’re usually accompanied by symptoms like a runny nose, blocked ears, swelling in the face, fever and sinus pain.
Dehydration: When you become dehydrated, the brain temporarily contracts because of the lack of fluid, causing it to pull away from the skull. Which hurts. The pain can usually be felt all over the head and can be anything from a dull ache to an intense throbbing. So, keep up your water intake.
Cervicogenic headache: These are caused by pain referred from tissues in the neck. They usually cause pain on one side of the head, from the base of the skull to the temple of the eye, and are aggravated by neck movements.
Migraine: If you’ve ever had a migraine, you’ll know it’s way beyond a standard headache. As well as a pounding, throbbing pain in the head, sufferers can experience vision disturbances, sensitivity to light, noise and/or smells, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or stomach pain. Migraines can last for several hours, or even days.
Cluster headaches: Causing intense burning or piercing pain behind or around one eye, cluster headaches can be so overwhelming that sufferers can’t sit still during one. They may cause swelling, redness or tears in the eye affected, and nasal congestion on that side. They’re called cluster headaches because they occur in groups – one to four times per day (lasting 15 minutes to three hours each time) during a cluster period, which can last from two weeks to three months.
Physiotherapy is an extremely effective treatment for headaches.
Headaches can occur due to a variety of reasons including stress, poor posture, accidents, medications, environmental factors such as strong odours and pollution, and dietary irregularities. Nerve irritation in the neck is one of the most overlooked causes of migraine and tension headaches.
Your physiotherapist will carefully analyse potential headache triggers and perform a detailed history, orthopaedic, neurological and spinal examination to determine the cause of your headache. Upon arriving at a specific diagnosis, your care can begin.
Depending on the type of headaches you are prone to, there are a few things you can do to try to reduce the frequency and intensity:
Please contact us to arrange your comprehensive headache assessment and begin your journey towards living a life without headaches! We look forward to hearing from you!
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