Migraines and headache pain plague nearly all adults from time to time, though patients who suffer from chronic daily headaches and persistent migraines experience more debilitating and disruptive pain symptoms. Whether from tension headaches, migraines, or cluster headaches, head pain can prevent us from functioning successfully and happily in our professional and social lives. Headaches can result due to a variety of reasons including stress, poor posture, accidents, medications, environmental factors such as strong odours & pollution and dietary irregularities.
Tension headaches : Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Approximately 80-90% of people across the U.S. endure occasional or frequent tension headaches. They are also the third most commonly reported source of pain across the world! Whether they are acute and temporary or constant and chronic (such as migraines), headaches can be treated by physical therapy. Tension headaches are often described as involving the feeling of a tight band around the head and are often associated with muscle tightness in the head, neck or jaw. Perhaps one of the most overlooked causes of migraine and tension headache is due to nerve irritation in the upper neck caused by poorly functioning spinal joints – This is called Vertebral dysfunction. Since the nerves of the upper neck supply areas of the scalp and face, irritation to these nerves can and often lead to headache.
Tension headaches can be due to physical and/or emotional stress. Poor posture, and muscle tension in the back, shoulders and neck can cause referred pain 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 further tighten the muscles of the back, shoulders, neck and head, lower a person’s pain tolerance and reduce the amount of the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals (eg. endorphins).1
Neck headaches Neck headaches – often referred to as cervicogenic headaches – result from pain referred from an underlying neck issue. There are many pain-sensitive structures that exist at the junction of the upper neck (cervical) and back of head (occipital) regions. These structures – including the lining of the cervical spine, the joints, ligaments, cervical nerve roots and surrounding muscles – can cause pain in the presence of an underlying issue.3 The features of neck headaches can be similar to those of tension headaches or migraines, often making it difficult to distinguish between them.4
Physical Therapy is an extremely effective treatment for headaches.Your Physical Therapist will carefully analyse potential headache triggers and perform a detailed history, orthopaedic, neurological and spinal examination to determine the cause of your headache. Our Physical Therapists will conduct a physical evaluation and ask you questions about your health history and symptoms, in order to determine what type of headache you are experiencing and where the pain is stemming from. A treatment plan will then be designed specifically for you and your recovery. Please contact us to arrange your comprehensive headache assessment and begin your journey towards living a life without headaches! We look forward to hearing from you!