How Physiotherapy Can Put An End To Nagging Headaches

Do you get bad headaches that just won’t go away? Do they prevent you from work, study, or a good night’s sleep? Did you know that headaches can be caused by stiffness in your neck joints? Physiotherapy may be the solution to getting rid of your headaches!

How do I know if my headache is related to my neck? 

There are some common findings which often help to establish the neck as the cause of the headaches

  • You have neck and shoulder pain at the same time as the headache
  • Certain postures trigger your headache such as sitting, driving, looking down at your phone for too long, sleeping position. Sometimes the headache occurs well after being in that particular posture eg 1-2 days after.
  • The pain gets worse with fatigue such as towards the end of the day or the end of the week
  • Waking up with a headache after a bad night’s sleep, or sleeping on a different pillow or mattress
  • You had an injury to your neck such as a whiplash injury, around the time the headaches started

What are the most common types of headaches? 

Cervicogenic headaches

Cervicogenic headaches involve the three top vertebrae of the neck. When these vertebrae are stiff, they send pain signals which refer up into the head, causing headaches. The headache is often just on one side of your head, and can be triggered by neck movements.

Migraines

A migraine often involves a severe headache, along with other symptoms. These include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or smell
  • An “aura” – disturbances to vision that can include difficulty focussing, flashing lines, flickering spots

A migraine usually occurs on one side, but it is common for it to change sides. The pain is often described as throbbing or pulsating. Migraines can be triggered by certain foods, hormonal changes, stress or exercise. 

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are caused by repetitive motions or poor neck/head postures that place the neck muscles under constant strain, sending pain messages into the head. Tension headaches affect both sides of the head, and often feel like a tight band across your forehead.

How can Physiotherapy help with headaches?

Physiotherapy treatmeant for headaches firstly involves an assessment to determine what the likely cause of your headaches is. Manual therapy techniques will be used to release the stiffness in your upper cervical joints, and soft tissue massage will be used to help release the tension in any tight muscles that you may have. Ultrasound, heat packs and TENS can be used for pain relief. Your physiotherapist will give you some stretches and exercises to help relieve the pain and prevent the headaches from recurring. The exercises will address any muscle imbalances or weaknesses that may be contributing to your headaches. Your physiotherapist will also talk to you about your work station set-up, your sleeping habits, and any other aggravating activities. They will then be able to offer you advice on what you may need to change or modify to help manage and prevent your headaches.

If you are experiencing headaches and have any further questions or would like to book an appointment, feel free to contact us! Give us a call on 9875 3760 or email info@wphphysio.com.au. We would be more than happy to help.

If you need physical therapy to relieve
your pain, and would like some more
information, feel free to contact us!

Give us a call on (02) 9875 3760 or email
info@wphphysio.com.au. We would
be more than happy to help you.