VIDEO: How to Treat a Headache - Marpole Physiotherapy
Simply put a headache is any pain in the neck or the head, and it’s important to realize that there are many different types of headaches. In actual fact there are 14 different categories and over 100 different types of headaches.
What’s important about this is to realize that not all headaches can be treated by a physiotherapist. For example, if you are ill and have a fever or a viral or a bacterial infection such as meningitis, or if your headache is a vascular headache such as a migraine, these are treated by your medical doctor and you need to see a qualified medical practitioner for help with these.
If your headache is being caused by the structures of the neck which could include the joints of the cervical spine or the neck spine, the nerves in that area or the muscles in that area, as well as the fascia in that area, we generally term these tension headaches or cervicogenic headaches, and these are the types of headaches that physiotherapists can help you with.
Headaches can be caused by a number of things. Some things that are quite common could be reactions to various drugs such as alcohol or others. They could also be a trauma such as a head injury or concussion during a sporting activity, or even something like a car accident where whiplash has occurred.
There are some other causes and it’s important for your physiotherapist to assess your history to determine what might have caused your headache. Certain techniques such as manipulation, mobilization, and soft tissue techniques such as acupuncture, intramuscular stimulation, or stretching methods are all certainly options in treating headaches, and your physiotherapist is best able to determine which of those will help you.
Following a thorough subjective history and an examination, the physiotherapist will be able to determine what the structures are that are causing the headaches. Typically one of the most important areas is posture. Many people work at desks or drive for long periods of time with poor posture, and it’s the single biggest factor that will influence people to have headaches that are coming from their neck or tension-type headaches.
When you see your physiotherapist for headaches it’s important to realize that you’re working in partnership with your physiotherapist. Information that would be useful would be for you to keep a logbook recording the intensity, the duration and the frequency of your headaches, as this will give your therapist a better idea of the history.
Secondly, if you’re taking any medication for your headaches make sure to tell your physiotherapist about that as well as anything that makes your headaches worse or things that you have found to help your headache get better.
Many people don’t realize that the brain tissue itself does not have any pain receptors and so when we’re describing headaches, we’re really talking about the muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons, blood vessels and nerves in and around the neck and the head that are causing the pain associated with headaches. Because many people suffer from headaches that can be caused by these structures, physiotherapists are able to help treat these conditions in many cases.
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