Headaches are one of the most prevalent conditions in society! They cause missed days at work, unproductive days due to clouded judgement and thinking, irritability, low moods, and most importantly, negatively affect your quality of life.
It’s common for headache sufferers to bounce between various disciplines, often struggling to get any answers or any relief. Even more commonly, the person never seeks any help, instead of masking their headaches with pain relief medications because they are unaware that physiotherapy is available for headache sufferers.
Types of headaches
Since there are numerous types of headaches, determining the location and nature of your pain can determine the cause.
Tension headaches cause pain to spread across both sides of the head, often beginning in the back and progressing forwards. This is the most common type of headache discomfort. Tension headaches are frequently caused by eyestrain, stress, and lack of food, and they can be persistent.
Sinus headaches are caused by sinus passage swelling, which causes pain behind the cheeks, nose, and eyes. When you first wake up in the morning and bend forwards, the pain is usually at its worst.
These headaches are usually excruciating and occur in “clusters,” meaning they occur several times each day for months, usually around the same time. They are caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the brain due to the release of serotonin and histamine. Physical exertion, bright lights, and altitude are all known to trigger them.
Migraines are a common neurological disease involving nerve pathways and chemicals. Changes in brain activity have an impact on blood flow in the brain and surrounding tissues, resulting in a variety of symptoms. It could last for at least four hours and possibly even days.
Migraines cause a variety of symptoms, the most common of which is a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Migraine sufferers may also experience the following symptoms in addition to severe headaches:
- Extreme exhaustion.
- Sensitivity to light, sound, or smell has increased.
The most common type of headache
A tension headache, also known as a muscle-contraction headache, is the most common type. Tension headaches occur when stressed-out head or neck muscles contract too tightly.
Tension headaches are usually caused by poor or prolonged postures that lead to overworked muscles in the neck and shoulders, which refer to pain in the head and create tension on the fascia, which makes up most of our scalp. These are the types of headaches that office workers & truck drivers get after-hours seated in the same position.
Postural correction and strengthening are required for long term relief. However, your physiotherapist can provide short term relief from your headache with manual therapy.
Cervicogenic headaches come from the neck. These can be diagnosed very quickly by your physiotherapist. They are caused by C1-3 (top 3 vertebrae) because they share the same nerve pathways as your face and scalp. With manual therapy, your physiotherapist can treat these headaches quickly and easily.
Why do you suffer from headaches?
The majority of headaches are caused by:
- Certain foods such as alcohol, cheese, nuts, pizza, chocolate, ice cream, fatty or fried food, lunch meats and hot dogs, yoghurt, aspartame, and MSG.
- Blaring music.
- Sleep deprivation or abrupt changes in sleep patterns.
- Watching TV or using a computer.
- Meal skipping.
- Sustaining a head injury.
- Caffeinated beverages, people who drink a lot of caffeinated drinks might get caffeine-withdrawal headaches.
- Vision issues.
- Taking a long journey by car or bus.
- Hormonal changes can also cause headaches in some teenagers. Some girls, for example, experience headaches right before their periods or at other regular times during their monthly cycle.
- Some medications, headaches can be a side effect.
- Strong odours, such as perfume, smoke, fumes, or a new car or carpet.
- Infections such as ear infections, viruses like the flu or a cold, sore throat, meningitis, or sinus infections.
Common symptoms of a tension headache
- It is possible that both sides of the head will experience mild to moderate pain.
- A tight band of pain around your head, a dull ache, or pressure may be felt.
- The frequency varies greatly.
- It is possible that this will happen more than 15 days per month.
- May occur on rare occasions.
- The duration can range from 30 minutes to a week.
Headaches can be caused by dehydration, neurological deficits, increased sensory input, tight muscles, and stiff neck joints. Some common headaches which can be helped quickly by physiotherapists are “Tension” and “Cervicogenic” headaches.
Headaches can be debilitating and can lead to a loss of productivity and income. If you have recurring headaches, it’s essential to see a physiotherapist figure out what’s causing them rather than just putting up with the discomfort.