At Total Physiotherapy we see a number of patients who suffer from headaches. Most symptoms are caused by pain-sensitive structures such as the cranium, muscles, nerves, arteries and veins, subcutaneous tissues, eyes, ears, sinuses and mucous membranes.
The majority of patients we treat suffer with tension-type headaches which develop for a number of reasons. It is important for the physiotherapist to exclude any serious pathologies which will be covered in the initial assessment. If the physiotherapist believes you may need further assessment they will advise you to see your GP or refer you for further scans (MRI, CT). The majority of headaches have a simple explanation and at Total Physiotherapy we use a number of different treatment techniques to improve your symptoms.
Headaches generally present as a steady dull ache, intermittent or chronic in nature, and are usually activity dependent. The patient often describes a pulling or gripping feeling over their head that is causing the pain. Headaches may develop after trauma such as a whiplash injury, or sporting injuries (repetitive trauma) and headaches that originate from the neck usually present with stiffness and loss in movement to the neck. This can be exacerbated by poor posture and occupations that involve static positions.
Poor posture normally presents itself as rounded shoulders and a poking chin position which causes shortening of the muscles down the back of the neck and increased tension. The pain may also originate from the temporomandibular joint as a poking chin position can cause dysfunction to the joint and subsequently cause head pain.
Abnormal biomechanics can cause muscle shortening and joint dysfunction which will predispose an individual to headaches. Damage to the joints in the spine or compression of the nerves as they pass through the muscles can also cause irritation to the nerves, causing a headache to develop.
How can physiotherapy help with headaches?
There are a number of different reasons why headaches develop and it is important for the physiotherapist to get to the source of the problem before developing a treatment program. We will complete a thorough assessment and determine the main cause of the headache. This may be spondylosis (osteoarthritis) of the spine, trigger points in the muscles, poor posture causing abnormal curvature (lordosis or kyphosis) of the spine, previous whiplash injury, stenosis (narrowing) of the joints in the spine or increased stress levels which cause muscle tension.
Once the source of the problem has been established, the physiotherapist will use the most appropriate treatment modalities to treat an individual’s symptoms. It may also be necessary for the patient to see their doctor or a pharmacist for appropriate medication to treat the pain.
If you would like to discuss your problem before booking an appointment please give our physiotherapy team a call, we will do our best to help.