Did you know that headaches are the third most common pain complaint throughout the world? They can impact your quality of life and make it difficult to function normally. Luckily, headache relief can be found through physiotherapy. Your trained physiotherapist will work with you to provide pain relief from headaches, in addition to any other aches and pains you may be suffering from. In this guide, we’ll outline the different types of headaches and the causes for them, in addition to explaining how physiotherapy can help.
Different types of headaches:
Any type of pain that occurs within the head can be referred to as a “headache.” Most headaches will resolve on their own without medical intervention; however, severe or recurrent headaches that interfere with one’s quality of life should most certainly be evaluated further. The challenge lies in identifying which type of headache you’re experiencing and then devising a treatment plan accordingly. Physiotherapists are adept at diagnosing different types of headaches and can develop pain relief strategies for stress-related headaches.
There are 10 common types of headaches:
- Stress (tension)
- Migraine or sinus
What are stress-related/tension headaches?
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache in adults and older teens. They occur when the neck and scalp muscles contract or become tense, and they can happen at any age. Stress-related headaches generally start at the back of the head and progress to the top of the head and eyes, sometimes accompanied by facial pain along the jaw and cheeks. This type of discomfort has been compared to having hair pulled or wearing a very tight hat. These types of headaches can occur as a result of:
- Increased stress.
- Poor posture.
- Neck or jaw problems.
How physiotherapy helps:
At your initial visit, your physiotherapist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your physical abilities, in addition to reviewing your health history. He or she will ask you a series of questions to determine the type of headache you’re experiencing. After your physiotherapist determines what type of headache you’re dealing with you’ll work together to develop a treatment plan for meeting your physical health goals.
During your first visit, you can expect to undergo some of the following:
- Inquiries about the location of the pain, in addition to any other symptoms you are experiencing.
- Questions regarding previous injuries to your neck, head, jaw and/or back.
- Measurements regarding the range of motion of your shoulders, neck, and other relevant parts of the body.
- Examination of your posture while engaged in different activities.
- Tests of your muscle strength and sensation.
- Manual therapy to ascertain the mobility of joints and muscles in your neck.
A physiotherapist’s mission:
While the end goal of physiotherapy is pain relief, there are some important steps along the way that your physiotherapist will help you with, in order to decrease pain and improve function. These include, but are not limited to:
- Posture improvement. Your posture throughout the day greatly impacts your likelihood for pain and stress-related headaches. Your physiotherapist will teach you methods of improving your posture in order to function more comfortably in your daily life.
- Strength improvement. You’ll learn exercises to help strengthen the muscles that control your neck and upper back, in order to improve posture and increase your ability to stand or sit comfortably for longer periods of time.
- Neck improvement. Using manual therapy, your physiotherapist will stretch the muscles in the back of your neck to relieve pain and increase movement.
Different types of physiotherapy treatments
Your physiotherapist may suggest any combination of specialized treatment services, including but not limited to:
- Heat or ice compressions.
- Soft tissue mobilization.
- Muscular releases.
- Muscle energy techniques.
- Body mobilization.
- Cervical traction.
- McKenzie-based therapies.
With all treatment plans, you can expect to receive education that will supplement your in-office experience.
Persistent and life-altering headaches may not go away without physiotherapy. To experience long-lasting pain relief and improve your quality of life, contact our office or click here for a free consultation today. Our staff would be happy to talk with you and discuss how we can help you achieve a pain-free life.