Physio for Headaches

Headaches come in many different shapes and sizes and can be triggered by a number of different causes. Symptoms vary depending on the type of headache you are experiencing but can present as pain, aching, or throbbing in various regions of the head or behind the eyes. Physiotherapy has shown to be extremely effective in reducing the symptoms of common headaches using a number of physiological treatment techniques and rehabilitation exercises.

What type of headaches can physio help treat?

With headaches being one of the most common health conditions in Australia, physiotherapy offers a holistic approach to treatment, effective in the management of:

Cervicogenic headaches: This type of headache stems from an underlying issue with the neck. Originating from the cervical spine (the neck area), cervicogenic headaches are the most responsive to physical therapy treatments focused on manipulation, massage, and postural correction to relieve pain.

Tension headaches: Triggered by emotional and physical stress, the brain releases an excess of adrenaline and cortisol, chemicals related to the “fight or flight” response. This causes a tightening of the muscles in your back, shoulders, neck, and head culminating in the strained/pressurised feeling or “tension”.

Migraines: Symptoms include severe pulsating pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines also cause visual, auditory, sensory, and verbal disturbances. In short, a migraine is a debilitating headache affecting your functional abilities. Unfortunately, the triggers are not well known and can differ from person to person.

How does physio work to relieve my headaches?

Physiotherapists are experts in posture and movement of the body. A physio has a highly developed knowledge and understanding of how the body’s ligaments, joints, and musculature should function. Therefore, they are able to diagnose, treat, and manage common headaches utilising physical therapy techniques. For example, a physio might determine the soft tissue in your neck is contributing to your headaches and treat the cause with massage, functional exercises, and relaxation therapy.

Can physio help prevent headaches?

Your physiotherapist will look at the cause of your headaches from a holistic perspective and recommend lifestyle changes to minimise or reduce pain. A physio will provide advice on ways to help avoid and manage underlying causes of headaches by looking at relevant aspects of your daily life:

Posture: How you hold your body has a significant impact on your health and wellbeing. Your physio can help you develop healthy habits and strengthen your supporting muscles.

Work environment: Your work setup should be ergonomically aligned to allow frequent position changes and stretching. Your physio can provide recommendations on the most functional workstation for your body.

Bedding: Your sleeping position can greatly affect your neck. Your pillow plays a large part in this and your physio can advise which type is best for you.

Exercise: A physio can show you ways to help exercise tight and weak muscles to restore and regain function and control.

Relaxation: The ability to recognise stress triggers and reduce anxiety is an important factor in avoiding tension headaches. Physios can teach you relaxation techniques to help you manage stress.

Physiotherapists will also consult with your general practitioner, especially if you are experiencing complex, chronic headaches. This enables your treatment team to develop a comprehensive care plan and implement the correct physical therapy techniques according to your specific pain issues.

Burleigh Central Physiotherapy provides highly qualified, professional physiotherapy services designed to help you manage the symptoms of headaches. Contact our specialist team today to discuss how we can create a personalised treatment plan to support your health needs.

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