Headache Physio helping you relieve the pain of Headache and Migraine
If you suffer from a headache or migraine pain then Physio can assist you to eliminate or decrease your headache pain without drugs. Our hands-on headache Physio treatment will not only decrease or eliminate your headache pain but we will assess the root cause of your headaches. Your hands-on Physio will work with you to understand the cause of your headache and will implement treatment strategies so you can prevent your headache from re-occurring or at least reduce the frequency and severity of your headache pain.
Headaches are commonly a result of restricted movement within the spinal joints and muscles of the neck, head, jaw and face. Your hands-on headache Physio will ask you questions about your work, how you sleep, any stresses you may have and observe your posture. If you have restricted movement in your neck or upper back spinal joints, your nerves and blood vessels close to your spine or head may become irritated. This can result in your neck, head, jaw or face muscles to become tight and overworked, resulting in pain in these muscles and the end result is headache pain.
There are many types of headache – the most common types of headaches are tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches and migraines.
A tension headache will feel like a squeezing pressure around your head. Tension headaches can be caused by stress, long work hours, depression, frowning or squinting which leads to eye strain. Tension headaches are more common in females than males. Grinding your teeth at night or clenching your jaw may give you tempero-mandibular joint (TMJ) pain or symptoms as well as a headache on one or both sides of your head. Your neck and shoulder posture can put strain on your neck spinal joints. If your muscles are tight or knotted their resting length will be shortened and this will pull on their attachment to your neck joints. This may pinch a nerve supplying the sensory part of your head or the tight muscles can directly pull on your head and scalp. Tension headaches can be constant or intermittent and often occur at the end of the week or month.
Cervicogenic Neck Headache
Cervicogenic or neck headache pain is linked to your neck joints, upper spinal joints and neurovascular structures in your upper neck and is the cause of most tension headaches. Stiffness, laxity or abnormal positioning (eg. rotated, locked, forward chin posture) in your upper neck joints can set off pain signals in your nervous system. These pain messages are sent to your trigeminocervical nucleus in your brainstem and once received your brain interprets these messages resulting in you feeling headache pain. The three upper neck joints are the most common ones involved in headache pain. Theses joints are the atlanto-occipital joint (O-C1), atlanto-axial joint (C1/2), and C2/3 cervical spine joints. Sometimes your neck doesn’t feel sore or painful during the normal course of your day, however when your physiotherapist palpates your neck joints and muscles they may be tender to touch.
Sometimes cervicogenic headache can refer pain into your eye, down your shoulder blade or along your shoulders. Your headache may radiate from the back of your skull to the front of your head. Your cervicogenic headache may be provoked or eased by specific neck movements or by maintaining a sustained posture such as stomach sleeping or with your head turned to one side. Your headache is usually worse on one side of your head and does not swap sides. Often your headache pain can temporarily decrease when you apply pressure by massaging your neck or the base of your skull.
Not every headache is caused by neck joint restriction or spinal stiffness, however, our hands on physiotherapist will assess you individually and determine the best approach to treating your headache pain or a migraine.
The nerves in your upper neck may become irritated, which may result in you feeling headache pain. Sometimes patients refer to this as a Pinched nerve. If you have inflammation in your joints, arthritis, joint degeneration, bone growth or bulging discs these may pinch or irritate your nerves. Your nerve mobility may also become reduced. This can lead to abnormal tension, sliding and gliding movement of your nerves, which is known as Neurodynamics.
Our caring and hands-on Physiotherapists have had many years of success in treating, reducing and relieving headache pain without the use of drugs. Many of our patients experience almost immediate relief from their headache pain. Some of our patients who have more chronic headache pain report their pain has reduced gradually over time, with intensity and frequency of the headache pain reducing as their headache Physio treatment progresses. Our hands-on Physio will improve your quality of life by getting to the cause of your headache pain and working with you to improve the contributing factors in your life that have led to you experiencing headache.
Headache and migraine treatment at will consist of specific hands-on physiotherapy techniques aimed at improving dysfunctional joint range of movement, release of tense or tight muscles with soft tissue release techniques, neuromuscular dry needling physiotherapy treatment, nerve and fascia release techniques, head and scalp muscle mobilisation, jaw (TMJ) pain or stiffness physiotherapy treatment, address the biomechanics of your postural muscles and treatment to restore function and readdress and muscle function imbalance that may be present (weak, lengthened muscles and overworked, tight muscles). Your hands on physiotherapist will work with you to implement strategies to improve your posture at work, whilst sitting, sleep posture and abnormal movement patterns that you may not be aware you have adopted in other areas of your day to day life such as during exercise, hobbies, housework or whilst concentrating on tasks. Our hands on Physiotherapists care about your overall wellbeing and we can work with you to help you incorporate strategies to minimise your pain and stress response with mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques.
Can Physiotherapy Treat Migraine Sufferers?
Migraines affect many of our patients. The triggers for migraines are not yet completely understood. Changes in your circulatory or nervous system in certain sections of the brain and chemical or hormonal imbalances are blamed for causing migraine pain. There are two main categories of migraines including a common and classic migraine. Migraine headache pain is generally unilateral, on one side of your head, however, it can cover the entire head. Migraine pain symptoms usually include severe headaches with throbbing, pulsing or stabbing pains. Migraines can also cause nausea, loss of appetite, increased sensitivity to light and altered bodily perception. Patients suffering from migraine pain sometimes experience an aura that may include visual changes, sense of smell changes that inform them that they are on the verge of onset of a migraine. There are lots of triggers for migraines such as increased stress, certain foods, particular medications, changes in your sleep patterns, hormonal changes (such as your menstrual cycle) and tension in your neck and upper back. Physiotherapy treatment for a migraine – it is our experience that our hands on physiotherapy treatment can help to reduce the severity and frequency of migraine pain.
Classic migraines are often preceded by an aura or visual changes and occur more commonly in females. A Migraine may also be preceded by mood swings up to a day earlier than their onset. Classic migraines are often more severe than a headache and are usually described as an ache on one side on the front and or back of the head or a throbbing, pulsing type headache pain. A migraine can also cause other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite and visual changes including loss of part of their field of vision and sensitivity to light. If medication or treatment is taken at the onset of a migraine they can usually be stopped or their symptoms decreased.
Common migraines often come on with no warning signals. Sometimes it can be certain foods, drink, blood sugar levels, too much or too little sleep that trigger these migraines. The symptoms may be similar to a classic migraine. Most patients report that they need to go to sleep to eliminate this migraine pain. After common migraines patients usually wake up feeling exhausted or washed out, with an increased sensitivity of their vision and hearing. During migraines, it is common for the muscles in your neck, head and shoulders to tighten and cause your neck joints to stiffen. Hands-on Physio can treat and reduce your muscle and joint tightness and assist your relaxation providing you with pain relief.