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Can physiotherapy help with headaches?

Physiotherapy Headaches Tension Headaches

Can a physiotherapist help with a headache?

You might be surprised, but the answer is, YES!

Physiotherapy Headaches Tension Headaches

It will depend on what type of headache you’re experiencing – and there are a lot more than you might think!

What different types of headache are there?

There are more than 150 types of headache!

What type you’re experiencing depends on the cause, the symptoms, the location and how often they occur. 

Some of the most common headaches include:

  • Tension headache

Usually caused by tension in the muscles of the shoulders, neck or face. Tension headaches are usually felt as pressure all the way around the head.

  • Sinus headache

These headaches are usually felt as a deep pain in your forehead, cheekbones and/or nose. Often caused by sinus infections, they’re usually accompanied by symptoms like a runny nose, blocked ears, fever etc.

  • Dehydration

When you become dehydrated, the brain temporarily contracts because of the lack of fluid, causing it to pull away from the skull. Which hurts. The pain can usually be felt all over the head and can be anything from a dull ache to an intense throbbing. So, keep up your water intake. 

  • Cervicogenic headaches

These are caused by pain referred from tissues in the neck. They usually cause pain on one side of the head, from the base of the skull to the temple of the eye, and are aggravated by neck movements.

  • Migraine

If you’ve ever had a migraine, you’ll know it’s way beyond a standard headache. As well as a pounding, throbbing pain in the head, you can experience vision disturbances, sensitivity to light, noise and/or smells, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or stomach pain. Migraines can last for several hours, or even days. 

  • Cluster headaches

Feel like intense burning or piercing pain behind or around one eye. They may cause swelling, redness or tears in the eye affected, and/or nasal congestion. They’re called cluster headaches because they usually occur in groups – ie. multiple times per day (lasting from 15 minutes to 3 hours each time).

What can you do to reduce headaches?

Depending on the type of headaches you are prone to, there are a few things you can do to try to reduce the frequency and intensity:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep
  • Try to reduce your stress levels and make time for relaxation
  • Don’t skip meals and make sure to eat regular, healthy snacks to maintain your blood sugar levels
  • Notice if there are particular foods, drinks, smells or environmental factors (such as lighting conditions) that trigger headaches so that you can avoid these in future
  • If you are sitting at a desk for long periods of time, stretch your neck, shoulder and back muscles regularly
  • Warm up and cool down properly after exercise


How can a physiotherapist help?

The two main headaches that physiotherapists can help you with are tension headaches and cervicogenic headaches.

In the case of tension headaches, a physio will relax and unlock the muscles, releasing the tension that is causing the pain. They will also look at lifestyle factors that might be contributing to the problem, such as stress, and help you to manage these.

For cervicogenic headaches, the goal will be to address the neck issue at the root of the problem. This could involve manipulation, massage or mobilisation. They will likely teach you exercises to perform regularly, which will help to relieve the problem. Poor posture is a common cause of cervicogenic headaches, so addressing this will be a big part of the treatment.

If youre not sure what type of headache youre experiencing, give us a call on 9982-6555 and we can help lead you in the right direction. 


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