You know that feeling of pain in your head, face or neck that signals a horrific headache or monstrous migraine is about to set in? Typically you would reach for the paracetamol or pop an aspirin for some immediate relief but there is an alternative option to head off the pain – and it’s drug-free.
What is this throbbing pain in my head?
As the name suggests, a headache is a tension like pain in the head but can also be felt in the neck and shoulders. There are several types, the triggers are many, and they are so common that nine out of 10 of us have endured one at some point.
By comparison, anyone who has experienced a migraine will tell you the pain is far more intense and even debilitating. Nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light and sound are all associated symptoms of migraine pain. Similar to headaches, there are several types of migraines and varied triggers.
Typically we reach for over-the-counter pain killers because they are effective and are considered safe. But they do have side effects and they may not work for everyone. There is an alternative treatment option that has long been regarded as effective in alleviating the symptoms associated with headaches and migraines: physiotherapy.
How can physiotherapy halt my headache and end my migraine hell?
Remember being told to sit up straight and stop slouching? It’s sage advice because often headaches can be caused by joint or muscular dysfunction in the neck and shoulders as a result of poor posture.
Physiotherapy is aimed at helping people recover from injury as well as reducing their pain and increasing their mobility. When that pain is derived from a headache or a migraine, physiotherapy techniques such as manipulation, massage, postural correction and targeted exercises have proven to deliver significant relief to pain-riddled sufferers.
Manual therapy is an effective treatment that addresses the underlying cause of the headache pain. The hands-on approach is ideal for successfully loosening and relaxing the neck muscles to alleviate the tension you may be experiencing.
Trigger point therapy and Myofascial release are specific techniques that reduce muscle tension and help relieve stiffness in the neck. The end goal is to release tension in the body and consequently ease pressure in the head.
Physiotherapy for headaches: effective and preventative
The first line of attack is always a full and thorough assessment to understand your symptoms, diagnose the type of headache or migraine you are experiencing and recommend the best treatment. Tests such as MRIs and CT scans are also important to rule out any sinister catalyst.
Prevention is also a large part of a physiotherapist’s role to improve posture, decrease headache symptoms and free your dependency on pain-relieving drugs. Specific exercises to do at home combined with education can help alleviate the pain and improve mobility in the neck.
Our physiotherapists are highly trained and well experienced in diagnosing, treating and preventing pain associated with headaches or migraines. We can discuss these strategies as part of your overall treatment plan.