There are many types of headaches with a great variety of causes. Finding out your type of headache will help you find the best possible treatment for it. Having a headache of any kind can significantly affect every aspect of your daily life from your productivity at work, to your relaxation and leisure time. Some people have a combination of headaches and can therefore be more complicated to diagnose.
Our Physiotherapists will employ a comprehensive examination that takes time to evaluate the patterns of symptoms might imply a certain pathology is present. The most common types of headache seen by our Hindmarsh and Fitzroy Physiotherapists are cervical headache, tension headache, T4 Syndrome and Migraines.
Cervical or Neck Headaches
These can occur due to tightness or postural abnormalities associated with dysfunction of the upper two vertebrae of the spine, though they may also be influenced by the lower segments.
Joint stiffness, tight muscles or irritation of neural structures of the upper cervical spine may then result in pain referral to the head. This is commonly a result of factors such as poor posture, injury or ongoing poor use of the important muscles around this region. Treatments for these headaches include manual therapy -joint mobilisations, soft tissue therapy, trigger point therapy or dry needling.
Treatment frequently also indicates the need for exercises for stability and muscle control in conjunction with postural advice to prevent reoccurrence. It is also important to identify features of your headache that may need to involve other professionals for advice in their area of speciality.
Tension headaches can be caused by stress, long work hours, depression, eye strain, jaw clenching and even grinding your teeth at night. Poor adaptive neck and shoulder posture can put strain on the neck which in turn may pinch a nerve supplying the sensory part of the head or the tight muscles can pull directly on the scalp.
Physiotherapy is one of the main treatments used for this type of headache, as it can be improved or even eliminated through a variety of treatment techniques including massage, joint mobilisation, relaxation, stretching and dry needling.
This presents with a headache that arises in the mid to upper back and often involves the entire head, and/ or tingling and numbness in the whole hand. The headache is usually described as a fuzzy or fluffy feeling like cotton wool in the ears or a band around the head similar to a tension headache. Successful treatment can use techniques such as thoracic mobilisations, manipulations and correction of movement dysfunction with retraining of the postural muscles.
Physiotherapy does not directly affect the vascular component of these debilitating headaches but can reduce the associated muscle and joint tightness, encouraging relaxation and pain relief. Migraines are known for having different triggering mechanisms and it is possible altered neck biomechanics colud be one of these in some people.
In the physiotherapy assessment and treatment of your headache, attention will be paid to the underlying contributing factors such as poor posture, incorrect work habits, weak deep muscle (stabilising) function, muscle tightness and overactivity. These factors are often the underlying causes or triggers and if they can be addressed successfully, there is a greater chance of reducing the strain on neck structures and thus reducing the frequency, intensity and duration of your headaches.
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Take control of your headaches with help from our experienced and informative Physiotherapists.