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Headaches? Physio Can Help!

Updated: Nov 20, 2018

Tension headaches are an extremely common type of headache, and the on many patients refer to as a “normal, everyday headache”. Most people are likely to have experienced a tension headache at some point.

A tension headache may feel like a constant ache that affects both sides of the head. You may also feel the neck muscles tighten and a feeling of pressure behind the eyes. The headaches usually last for one to six hours, but some people may have more persistent headaches that last for several days.

Coming into winter it is quite common to see an increase in the symptoms. In fact the colder months generally bring with them lower barometric air pressure. Gas expands when heated and contracts when cooled so the lower air temperature causes the air to constrict and result in lower pressure. The lower air pressure can cause the soft tissue around your joints to expand in response and it infringes on the joints, which can cause pain that radiates into the muscles. The muscles also constrict in colder weather and are more prone to tension and spasms that generate pain, which is why warm-up sessions and stretching are so important when training in lower temperatures.

How is it treated?

The common headache that responds well with physiotherapy is known as a ‘cervicogenic headache’. These headaches can be caused by incorrect posture, a whiplash injury, muscle tension, or from specific joint and ligament issues in the upper neck. The headache can develop at the temples or forehead, and even behind the eyes. Muscular tension headaches benefit from physiotherapy due to relieving tension in the muscles, which is usually key to treating the pain.

What does treatment involve?

After determining the cause of your headache, a physiotherapist may use a number of techniques and methods to treat the problem, including mobilisation of the joints and soft tissue techniques, directed at the fascia and muscles in the neck, upper back, and shoulder complex. The physiotherapist may suggest exercises that will help with muscle function and rehabilitation. Ergonomic changes to your environment can also have a major impact on your physical well-being.

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