Here's how Physiotherapy can help treat constant headaches
Although we may believe that headaches are only caused by lifestyle factors such as stress, recent research has shown that some headaches can be caused by underlying issues such as injury, infection or tumour. In this sense, some chronic or recurring headaches can be treated by physiotherapy by modifying daily habits that may be causing them.
But first, we must discuss what types of behaviours can cause specific headaches.
These are the most common type of headache and will impact two out of three Australians at some stage in their life. These types of headaches are usually described as a tightness in the head and jaw. Some say it feels as though a band is tightly secured around their head.
Tension headaches can be caused due to physical and/or emotional stress. Poor posture and muscle tension can cause such pains in the head. Emotional stress is believed to trigger our ‘fight or flight’ response, resulting in the release of ‘stress chemicals’ such as adrenaline. This can tighten muscles and lower a person’s pain tolerance.
Sometimes referred to as cervicogenic headaches, neck headaches are the result of an underlying neck issue. This can include the lining of the cervical spine, joints, ligaments, nerves and surrounding muscles. These types of headaches can cause tight feelings throughout the head and back of the neck. They are characterised as being quite discomforting and can make movement difficult.
Cluster headaches are considered to be one of the most painful types of headaches. They often awaken people in the middle of the night with intense pain in, behind, or around the eye on one side of the head. There is no specific cause to these headaches, however, some research has shown that the body's biological clock can be directly responsible for such headaches.
Migraines can result in severe throbbing or pulsing pain, usually on one side of the head. Some people state that they also experience nausea and vomiting when experiencing migraines. Migraines are most likely caused by genetics and environmental factors, however, factors such as imbalances in brain chemicals are also noted to cause migraines.
Some people may even feel a migraine trigger through certain foods, stress, changes in sleeping patterns, sensory stimulation (flashing lights, sun glare) as well as certain medication.
So how can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapists are experts in posture and movement and hence are able to determine if issues with the body are contributing to your headaches. As well, your physiotherapist can provide varying types of advice in regards to managing the underlying factors that cause headaches. This includes posture management, seating positions in a work environment, sleeping positions, exercise culture and relaxation culture. By doing so, a physiotherapist will have a clear sense of your current lifestyle patterns and will make informed suggestions as to how to make improvements to potentially reduce or eradicate headaches.
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