Physiotherapy for Headaches
While there are many possible causes for chronic headaches, issues in the joints or muscles of the neck are often part of the picture. Physiotherapists can help to assess any underlying causes that are physical in nature and provide you with a treatment plan to reduce the severity and frequency of your headaches.
It is important to note that the Life Force Physiotherapists do not “crack” or adjust joints, and any treatment of the neck is designed to gently ease stiffness and strengthen the joints over time.
Types of Headache
Tension headaches are the most common type, affecting 80% of the population on occasion. Tension headaches are most often caused by stress, tight muscles or poor posture and manifest as a tight feeling or dull ache around the sides and top of the head. These headaches can vary in severity, with some sufferers reporting symptoms usually associated with migraine, such as nausea or sensitivity to light and sound.
A secondary headache caused by an underlying condition such as an injury to the neck (eg whiplash), structural problems in the upper spine, arthritis or degeneration. The pain begins in the back of the neck and radiates towards the front of the head, usually starting on one side and ending with a throbbing pain around the eye. These headaches may be triggered by certain neck positions or even light and noise, and may be accompanied by nausea or blurred vision. It is important to have a thorough physiotherapy assessment of the underlying causes if you suffer from this type of headache.
Vascular Headaches & Migraine
Migraine is a condition of the central nervous system which differs from other headaches in origin, severity and treatment. Migraine triggers can be related to hormones, food sensitivities or blood flow among others. The muscles and joints of the neck and head can be involved in migraine to a greater or lesser extent, therefore physiotherapy or massage may be able to bring relief to some migraine sufferers.
How Can Physiotherapy Help Headaches?
If you suffer from chronic headaches, seeing a Physiotherapist is a good place to start. We will be able to assess your symptoms and physiology and design a treatment plan that is tailored specifically for you. Should your assessment indicate that you need further investigation to help you reach a diagnosis, your Physiotherapist will direct you accordingly.
The Life Force Physiotherapy Approach to Treating Headaches.
A full assessment of the neck and upper back is always carried out so that the underlying causes of your headaches can be accurately pinpointed, any previous injury or trauma to the neck are identified, and an effective treatment plan can be tailored to your needs.
When joint stiffness or lack of mobility is at the root of your headache, your Physiotherapist can help restore full range of motion in your neck using hands on passive movement techniques and mobilization of your joints.
Massage, Trigger Point and Myofascial Release
Trigger Points are areas of shortened muscles which can contribute to referred pain or muscular imbalance. The myofascial system is a thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds the brain, spinal cord, muscles, joints and all your organs. It can be restricted as a result of injury or poor posture. Physiotherapy can help to release these “knots” and restrictions and bring balance back to your spine.
If the joints of the neck are dynamically unstable, your Physiotherapist may suggest some specific exercises to strengthen deep neck muscles.
Ongoing neck problems and headaches are often connected to an imbalance in the supporting neck and back muscles. Your Physiotherapist will help you to correct the issues with a comprehensive program of strengthening, stretching and relaxing movements.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into the top layers of the skin to stimulate specific points. It is virtually painless and can help ease pain by restoring the flow of blood and reducing inflammation. Acupuncture affects the neurotransmitters, hormone levels, and the immune system and can effectively bring relief for many types of headache.
TENS nerve stimulation
Depending on the underlying cause of your headaches, your Physiotherapist may use TENS nerve stimulation. By placing electrodes on the skin, nerves near the source of your pain can be stimulated by small electrical signals, bringing effective relief of pain without the need for medication.
Physio Supervised Exercise Program
As you progress through your one-on-one physiotherapy treatment, we at Life Force Physiotherapy believe that a supervised work-out environment is crucial to help you ease safely into your self-directed exercise plan. Our physiotherapists will keep an eye on your movements so that you can feel confident that you’re staying on track.
Are you looking for advice for dealing with headaches or migraine? Please don’t hesitate to book an appointment with a Life Force physiotherapist to discuss your symptoms. We’re here to help!