Treatment for Headaches and Migraines with Physiotherapy
Headaches and migraines can be extremely disruptive to everyday life, as any headache sufferer will tell you.
The diagnosis of cervicogenic headache is frequently under -diagnosed. Many symptoms are similar to other classifications of headache (such as tension headache, migraine, hormonal headache and even cluster headache). There may be clear dietary, environmental or hormonal triggers for the onset of the patient’s headache. However, it is common that these triggers are only active when there is an increased sensitivity in the structures of the upper cervical spine. It is therefore crucial not to overlook the upper cervical spine as a potential underlying source of pain.
Cervicogenic headaches respond very well to physiotherapy treatment. The aims of physiotherapy are to identify the relevant source(s) of the pain and treat them so that the Physiotherapist can alleviate the pain/symptoms. In chronic cases there is usually more than one source of the referred pain from the upper cervical spine (specifically multiple articular levels as well as muscular components).
Physiotherapists also want to identify any other relevant underlying causes or influencing factors (such as posture, sleeping position, and repetitive movements) so that they can prevent re-aggravating the cervicogenic source of the referred pain to the head.
Patients can receive treatment at any time. (i.e. the patient DOESN’T have to have a headache when they come in for physiotherapy treatment)
Physiotherapy headache and migraine Assessment involves:
- Taking a detailed history, analysis of overall posture and vertebral alignment, and a thorough physical examination of the neck to determine if any structures in the neck may be a source of their pain
- Temporary reproduction AND lessening of their pain/headache would confirm that structures in their neck are a source of the pain that is referring into their head
- If no relevant disorders in the neck or upper back can be found then physiotherapy treatment would not be appropriate
Physiotherapy headache and migraine Treatment involves:
- Direct treatment to the structures in the neck that have been identified as being sources of the referred pain (specifically passive mobilisation to any hypomobile or poorly aligned vertebrae or joints, massage and/or myofascial release of any tight muscles and connective tissue, and possibly acupuncture/dry needling)
- Identifying and addressing any influencing factors to stop the problem re-occurring (posture correction or re-alignment, ergonomic assessment and advice, specific strengthening or stretching exercises to improve muscle balance and control
At Sports & Spinal we have several physiotherapists that have undertaken additional training in the treatment of headaches. Phone today to arrange an appointment with one of our headache team members.
For more information, head to our Locations page to find your closest clinic.