In this stressful world, headaches are commonplace and what many people don’t know is that most headaches are aggravated by some neck involvement, even if the neck is not the original cause. It simply makes sense therefore to consult a Physiotherapist directly when one is experiencing debilitating or on-going headaches. Although this is a broad subject, the common types of headaches treated by physiotherapists are outlined here and may assist you not only to ascertain from which type you may be suffering, but more importantly, whether it is a Physiotherapist from whom you should be seeking help at the outset.
What are the common types of headaches treated by Physiotherapists?
Sinus, Tension, Cluster, Migraine and Cervicogenic headaches all greatly benefit from physiotherapy. All of these headaches fall under four broader categories of headaches which are:
Neck headaches, also known as Cervicogenic headaches, are typically mistaken for ‘Migraine’ headaches when self diagnosed. These can often be eliminated through the successful treatment of neck disorders, with or without having experienced neck symptoms up until then. These headaches are caused by dysfunction in the musculoskeletal and neurovascular structures in your neck, including the upper three neck joints, which send a signals to the brain that are ultimately interpreted as a headache.
Migraine pain is often described as ‘throbbing’ and can be of moderate to severe intensity. Occurring only on one side of the head, but sometimes alternating sides with different attacks, the cause of migraines is not actually know for certain. The current belief is that hormonal and blood pressure changes adversely affect the electrical impulses in the brain which leads to visual, auditory and olfactory (smell) sensitivities and/or hallucinations. One or more of these are frequently, but not always, accompanied by pain or a headache.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches and only need to be treated if they're constantly re-occurring or if symptoms become chronic. Generally brought on by stress, it is irritating but not necessarily debilitating.
The build-up of pressure in your sinuses can cause deep and constant pain in your cheekbones, forehead, or the bridge of your nose and the combination of these can feel like a headache. Your sinuses can also be aggravated by tension in the upper three vertebrae and therefore, what many don’t realise, is that Physiotherapists can relieve the pressure by assisting the sinuses to drain, as well as addressing any contributing factors stemming from the neck.
Can I be suffering more than one type of headache at once?
You most certainly can. We are by no means living in isolated boxes, being exposed to only one thing at a time. You may have irritated sinuses from a food allergy or pollen and be under a tremendous amount of pressure in addition to having had a bumper bashing at some point in the past. With the combined symptoms arising from a sinus headache, a tension headache and a neck headache all at once, its no wonder that I often hear individuals complaining about having a migraine - they must think that nothing else can be that debilitating! It’s all the more reason then that neck pain, discomfort, injury or headache, should be assessed by a physiotherapist, the medical experts in dealing with musculoskeletal conditions. It saves time and money to refer yourself, as we as Physiotherapists are trained to identify situations beyond our scope of practice and will refer you to the appropriate health professional to address your individual situation - This ability is what lead to physiotherapists being awarded the :First-line practitioner status".
Word of warning
If the headaches you have been suffering from are new or very severe in nature they should be examined and diagnosed as soon as possible. There may be no be cause for alarm, but your health professional needs to rule out any sinister or progressive conditions to ensure that you are able to bounce back quickly or receive the appropriate treatment to address the condition as soon as possible.
Should you like to speak to us about your particular situation, feel free to give us call.
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You must not rely on the information on this site as an alternative to medical advice from your physiotherapist or other medical practitioner. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult directly with your physiotherapist or other medical practitioner. If you think you may be suffering from any condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.