We’ve all suffered from a headache at some point, but for many people this pain can become so frequent that it is disruptive to their daily lives. The instinct for many sufferers is to turn to prescription medication to relieve the symptoms and remove the inconvenience. Although drugs can provide temporary relief, they are not a long-term solution to the problem.
Instead, we recommend seeking help and advice from a professional physiotherapist to alleviate your pain and prevent reoccurrence.
Why Do Headaches Happen?
The majority of headaches fall into three categories – cervicogenic (neck-related), tension-type or migraines; but these can co-exist, or even cause each other.
Cervicogenic headaches are known to respond well to physiotherapy and it is this type that we will focus on here. These can result from a dysfunction in the upper neck joints, neck muscles or nerves caused by injury, poor posture, jaw dysfunction or emotional stress.
The first step in treating a headache patient involves the accurate diagnosis of the root cause, as well as assessment of any other lifestyle factors that could be aggravating the problem.
Your physiotherapist will ask questions about your working routine, sleeping position and exercise regime – in addition to obtaining a medical history to fully understand the nature of your headache.
Diagnosis may also include temporarily recreating your symptoms through manipulation of the neck and jaw in order to accurately determine the point of origin and therefore confirm the path to solution.
How Physiotherapy Can Help
Your physiotherapist will use a range of techniques to treat your headache. These will often begin with mobilisation of any poorly aligned vertebrae or joints, along with manipulation of the cervical spine and associated soft tissue structures.
These methods aim to correct any muscle imbalances and address underlying orthopaedic issues as a first step in solving the problem. A second key focus of your physiotherapy treatment will be a massage, to release tension or trigger points associated with your pain, targeting tight muscles and connective tissue in the neck area.
Long-Term Headache Prevention
The final step in your headache treatment is to discuss a self-help plan with your physiotherapist to ensure a long-term solution can be found.
Having previously identified possible aggravators of your symptoms, your physician will be able to recommend simple changes to your lifestyle, and offer practical ergonomic tips for your home or workplace. This could include simply adjusting the position of your computer, getting a more supportive chair or changing your mattress or pillows.
If your headaches are worsened by stress or anxiety, we can teach you techniques to encourage relaxation and decrease tension in the mind and body.
If appropriate, we can also recommend simple exercises you can undertake every day to strengthen and improve muscle balance and control. This will help minimise the occurrence of cervicogenic headaches, leaving you free from the pain and inconvenience they bring.
To learn more about our physiotherapy services in Auckland, contact us online or call 09 273 6089 to speak with one of our friendly team members.