Headaches can be severely inconvenient, disruptive and painful. It is important to accurately diagnose what is causing your headaches in order to effectively treat the headaches and relieve the symptoms.
What is a headache?
A headache is any painful sensation around your head.
There are typically 3 types of headache:
- Cervicogenic: a headache that originates in the neck due to stresses on neck structures.
- Tension type headache: most common form of headache which happens intermittently and what most people would think of when describing a headache.
- Migraine: a chronic neurological disorder which involves attacks of head pain and associated symptoms including nausea, photophobia and phonophobia.
What causes a headache?
Cervicogenic headaches are often due to activities that put a lot of stress on the joints in the upper neck. This could be, due to a trauma or specific incident, or can be due to long periods of slouching or bad posture, carrying or lifting (worse with poor posture), a lot of twisting or bending of the neck, for example activities such as housework or working at a desk on a computer for a long period.
Tension type headaches have been associated with a few different triggers including: anxiety and stress, squinting, tiredness, dehydration, poor posture, lack of physical activity, noise, bright sunlight, smells and missing meals, however the exact cause is not known.
Migraines were originally thought to be caused by blood vessel problems, however researchers more recently feel it is due to structures in the head and neck causing the pain and the chemical serotonin.
What are the symptoms of a headache?
For cervicogenic headaches you normally experience a progressive onset of neck pain and headaches during activities that aggravate the symptoms.
Symptoms of a headache include:
- Pain behind the forehead and eyebrows
- Neck stiffness
- Pain at the base and back of skull, which may extend into the neck and back
How is a headache diagnosed?
Your physiotherapist will carry out a full subjective and objective assessment to determine what is causing your symptoms and how best to treat your condition. Normally scans aren’t required, however, if something more serious is suspected, you may be sent for a scan immediately.
What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for a headache?
Following on from assessment, a tailor made treatment programme will be provided based around your lifestyle and needs. Each person is different and treatment varies individual to individual.
Treatment may include:
- Joint mobilisation
- Soft tissue massage
- Joint manipulation
- Advice and education
- Anti-inflammatory advice
- Ergonomic assessment
- Range of movement exercises
- Strengthening exercises
Benefit of physiotherapy for a headache?
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for headaches. Physiotherapy aids:
- Decreased pain
- Increased flexibility
- Increased strength
- Increased function
- Improved posture