Sick of Headaches?

Headaches are a condition that affects our lives more than we like to admit. Be it a mild pulsating ache in the background or a throbbing pain behind the eyes, it is annoying. Let’s face it, waking up with headaches on a daily basis is NOT normal and it’s something we can live without.

So what causes a headache? How do we overcome one? And more importantly, how can we prevent one? Being headache-free is easier than you might think.

First of all we need to determine which of the 3 major groups of headaches you have: Tension, Migraine, or Cervicogenic.

If you’re not sure which one you have, your Physiotherapist can do an assessment to determine this, and give you an action plan to address the cause of your issue.

Tension Headaches

These headaches are the ones that feels like there is a rubber band around your head providing a constant squeezing pressure on both sides.

Common causes:

  • Environmental factors
  • Internal stress like anxiety and depression.
  • Lack of sleep
  • Hunger

The way to treat this is by releasing the tension in muscles along the jaw and facial region. This can be done via specific soft tissue release or dry needling.

Lifestyle modification is important in managing tension headaches. Having enough exercise and sleep can help prevent these headaches from occurring. Taking some time to relax and slow down would also provide benefits to your physical and mental health.

Migraines

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These are the nasty ones that really make sure you are aware of their presence. They usually provide a pulsating ache on one side of the head and get worse with various activities.

Other common symptoms are photophobia (increase in sensitivity to light), phonophobia (increase in sensitivity to sound) or even nausea. Less common symptoms include sensory, speech and visual disturbances.

Research has shown that migraines are caused by sensitivity of the neural pathways.

Especially the trigeminal neurovascular system. This system provides sensation to our face and controls that muscles that allows us to chew.

For those with migraines that involve the less common symptoms, it could be a sign that there is blood pressure involvement and it would be ideal to inform your general practitioner.

With regards to treatment, the first line of attack would be non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSIADs). From there, your physiotherapist can release the muscles around the spinal region to reduce the stiffness of various joints in the neck.

Your Physiotherapist can also release tension in muscles around the jaw to relieve the headache, due to the trigeminal nerve that supplies activity to that specific muscle group.

Cervicogenic Headaches

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Similar to migraines, cervicogenic headaches like to take centre stage.

They can be continuous or episodic with a moderate intensity pain. They mostly occur only on one side of the head and start from the neck or base of the skull and creep their way towards the forehead. Sometimes they will creep down towards the shoulder and the arm.

Cervicogenic headaches are common in people who have a history of headaches after a whiplash incident. Other symptoms includes nausea, dizziness, blurry vision or photophobia.

Poor posture and poor mobility of the cervical spine (neck) are common causes of cervicogenic headaches.

For people who have cervicogenic headaches, there is often a lack of mobility in the cervical spine. This results in the nerves from that region starting to refer signals towards the head or down the arm.

Treatment consists of applying pressure towards the upper cervical spine, base of skull or surrounding muscle groups, thereby allowing the tension in the area to release.

What now?

Physiotherapy and dry needling are effective in providing relief to those with headaches. Gaining joint mobility and soft tissue release reduces the tension in the nerves in that region.

In addition, to reduce headaches returning long-term we need to address the causes of poor posture. Clinical Pilates with the guidance of a Physiotherapist, will help to improve motor control of the body.

Therefore if you want to get rid of those headaches, get moving!

Put down your phone and go out for a walk or run, see one of our Physiotherapists to address the cause of your issue and reduce your symptoms today. Call (08) 6389 2947 or click here to book online.

 

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