We all complaint of headache at some point in our day-to-day lives, don’t we? But if you have it on more days than not, then it should not be ignored as it could be the start of something more serious. The hectic schedule, sedentary lifestyle, improper diet and poor stress management are some of the reasons why headaches have become a recurrent phenomenon.
Some of the other reasons for headaches can be:
- Neck joint or muscle dysfunction in the neck (usually related to poor posture, muscle imbalance and stress)
- Discomfort in upper neck nerve roots and specific segments of the neck
- Chronic migraine
So, when the problem of headache strikes, what do you do? Just pop a pill and then move on to our daily chores? Is it really the right approach? Obviously no! Because headaches can eventually lead to all other kinds of pain such as neck, shoulder, upper back, face, head, jaw and ear pain; and can drastically affect the workings of your daily life. Popping a pill is surely not the wisest of decisions to make if the headaches are frequent and painful.
Have you ever considered physiotherapy for headache as a solution for the problem? If not, then here’s why you must…
Physiotherapy for headache
Though physiotherapy for headache isn’t always a first choice, but trust us, it can give some amazing results, especially when your medication and other treatment has failed.
Earlier doctors had this impression that headaches are linked to blood vessel abnormalities in the brain. However, most experts now believe that some forms of headache are caused by problems in the upper spine, which are called cervicogenic headaches or tension headaches.
These occur when tension and muscle in the upper back and neck are a contributing factor. Physiotherapy for headache can be effective in helping to relieve symptoms. This type of treatment can also be a great way to identify and eliminate the cause.
How to know if you should opt for physiotherapy?
If most of the answers to the questions given below is YES, then physiotherapy is definitely a move worth considering.
- Do you wake up with a headache very often?
- Do you often get a headache after sitting for prolonged periods of time on your laptop?
- Do you also feel neck pain, stiffness or soreness along with headache?
- Do you often feel sore “knots” forming in the muscles of the neck, upper back and shoulders?
- Does your jaw or shoulders clench when you are under stress with prolonged work?
Types of headaches
The answers to the above questions will also help your physiotherapist to determine if you have a cervicogenic headache or a tension type headache. Both headaches are highly treatable with the physiotherapy treatment.
How physiotherapy for headaches can help?
- For tension type headaches –
Physiotherapy is considered the best cure for tension related headache relief. Tension type headaches feel like a dull, aching pain and often include tightness across the forehead or sides/back of the head. People often describe this pain like they are wearing a headband that is too tight and they are unable to remove it. Sometimes, tension type headaches are difficult to really distinguish from migraines. The most common trigger for this kind of headache is stress.
Physical therapy for tension type headaches focuses on:
- Muscle relaxation – To promote relaxation of muscles at home
- Hands-on manual therapy – To loosen painful muscle and joints
- Soft tissue mobilization – To optimize your muscle function
Education on pain sensitization is also given by the physiotherapist in the recovery process from tension type headaches. When stress and anxiety begin to create pain in the body, it’s definitely a time to see a physical therapist.
- For cervicogenic headaches –
A cervicogenic headache is highly treatable using physiotherapy. These headaches usually come from a neck problem and the pain is transferred into the head. For this sole reason, it is considered a secondary headache disorder because the symptoms are generated outside the head itself. Patients typically describe this pain occurring on one side of the head only and is accompanied by neck pain as well. It is commonly seen on the base of the skull, behind the eye or in a line from the base of the skull toward the face or eye.
In physiotherapy treatment, by correcting the neck problem, and typically within the treatment session, the headache pain is reduced or eliminated. Commonly, the upper neck is the sole reason for cervicogenic headaches.
The physiotherapy treatment includes:
- Manual therapy – It is performed to improve the function of the neck
- Posture correction – Posture correction exercises are taught to ease the pain
- Physical therapy exercises – Some easy neck exercise are prescribed to allow the neck to heal and recover. Slowly, when the neck heals and starts working better, the headaches also resolve
Other most common physiotherapy treatments for headaches include:
- Gentle manual mobilization of joints and muscles in the upper neck and back
- Stretching and strengthening
- Soft tissue massage techniques
- Postural correction
- Core neck retraining
- Joint mobilization
- Western acupuncture
- Endurance re-education exercises
- Ergonomic assessment
- Neurodynamic assessment
- Stress and tension management techniques
Few tips to help manage headaches on your own:
- Start your day with a smile
- Have a glass of warm water and then proceed to the daily routines
- Improve your posture while standing & working on the laptop or even while driving
- Stretch out those muscles
- Stretches should be done for at least 30 seconds and several times throughout the day
- Do not hold your breath while doing the stretches, allow your body to relax and breathe normally
- Go just far enough to feel a stretch and not pain
- Stay hydrated
- Try to better manage your own daily stress…easier said than done, but you have to do it for yourself
- Make a notebook, write down the things that caused a little stress or discomfort during the day
- Try to avoid those situations in future or find a way to tackle them better
- Keep writing every day to keep a check on your daily emotions
- Get involved in your favorite hobbies
If you are an employee or working in a high stress job, work stress can take a heavy toll on your health. It’s important to be in touch with your hobbies, at least on weekends, so that you can rejuvenate and strike work-life balance.
Get headache relief at home
At HealthCare atHOME, our expert and skilled physiotherapists address every component that can contributes to headaches. We understand that simply releasing tight muscles and loosening up stiff neck joints will not be sufficient to get to the cause of the headache. That’s why, our experienced physiotherapists work in partnership with you, to assess your posture and muscle endurance, talk to you about your hobbies, exercise, sports, sleep, stress and tension, and then devise a treatment plan accordingly.
Our physiotherapists help you relax in the comfort of your home while tactfully working towards curing the root cause of your headache.
You can avail our physiotherapy service by calling the toll free number 1800-102-4224
Get a FREE telephonic consultation at our Physiotherapy Helpline 0120-6783277, from our expert team of physiotherapists.