Get rid of my Headache!

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Sick of Headaches?

By Si En Wong, Physiotherapist

Headaches, a condition that is affecting our lives more than we like to admit. Be it a mild pulsating ache in the background or a throbbing pain behind the eyes, it is annoying. Let’s face it, waking up with headaches on a daily basis is NOT normal and it is something we can easily live without.

So what causes a headache? How do we overcome it? More importantly, how can we prevent it? Being headache-free is easier than you might think.

First of all we need to determine what type of headache you have, there are 3 major groups of headaches – Tension, Migraine & Cervicogenic.

If you’re not sure which one you have, your Physiotherapist can do specific assessments to determine this and give you an action plan to address the root-cause of your issue.

  1. Tension Headaches

These headaches are the ones that feels like there is a rubber band around your head providing a constant squeezing pressure on both sides. Common causes are environmental or internal stress, like anxiety and depression. Lack of sleep and hunger can trigger it as well.

Ways to treat this is by releasing the tension in muscles along the jaw and facial region. This can be done via specific soft tissue release or dry needling.

Lifestyle modification is important in managing tension headaches. Having enough exercise and sleep can help prevent these headaches from occurring.  Taking some time to relax and slow down would also provide benefits to your physical and mental health.

  1. Migraines

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These are the nasty ones that really make sure you are aware of its presence. It usually provides a pulsating ache on one side of the head and gets worst with various activities. Other common symptoms are photophobia (increase in sensitivity to light), phonophobia (increase in sensitivity to sound) or even nausea. Less common symptoms includes sensory, speech and visual disturbances.

Research has shown that migraines are caused by sensitivity of the neural pathways.

Especially the trigeminal neurovascular system. This system provides sensation to our face and controls that muscles that allows us to chew.

For those with migraines that involves the less common symptoms mentioned, those are signs that there is blood pressure involvement and it would be ideal to inform your general practitioner.

In regards to treatment, the first line of attack would be non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSIADs). From there, your physiotherapist can release the muscles around the spinal region to reduce the stiffness of various joints in the neck. Your expert Physiotherapist can also release tension in muscles around the jaw to relieve the headache, due to the trigeminal nerve that supplies activity to that specific muscle group.

  1. Cervicogenic headaches

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Similar to migraines, cervicogenic headaches like to take center stage. They can be continuous or episodic with a moderate intensity pain. They mostly occur only on one side of the head and starts from the neck or base of the skull and creeps its way towards the forehead. Sometimes it will creep down towards the shoulder and the arm.

Cervicogenic headaches are common in people who have a history of headaches after a whiplash incident. Other symptoms includes nausea, dizziness, blurry vision or photophobia.

Poor posture and poor mobility of the cervical spine (neck) are common causes of cervicogenic headaches.

For people who have cervicogenic headaches, there is often a lack of mobility in the cervical spine, the nerves from that region starts referring signals towards the head or down the arm. Therefore treatment can usually help by reproducing the symptom by applying pressure towards the upper cervical spine, base of skull or surrounding muscle groups. After awhile, the tension in this area releases.

What now?

Physiotherapy and dry needling are effective in providing relief to those with headaches. By gaining joint mobility and soft tissue release, it reduces the tension within the nerves in that region. In addition, addressing the causes of poor posture and by doing specific exercises like Clinical Pilates with the guidance of an expert Physiotherapist to help improve motor control of the body, has also proven to be beneficial in the long-term.

Therefore if you want to get rid of those headaches, get moving! Put down your phone and go out for a walk or run, see one of our Physiotherapists and consider joining our Clinical Pilates programs to address the cause of your issue and reduce your symptoms to relieve your headache today!

To make an appointment with Si En Wong, simply click here to book online.

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