August 6, 2020

Understanding and Managing Recurrent Headaches

HeadachesHeadaches are some of the most common pain conditions around the world. Everyone has experienced headaches at some point in their lives and about 15% of people have sought medication to relieve the pain.

There are two types of headaches, primary and secondary headaches. Primary headaches come about if you have problems with your pain sensitive structure in the head. On the other hand, a secondary headache occurs when you have an underlying condition such as an injury, infection, or tumour.

Types of Headaches

Tension headaches: This is the most common type of headaches. It feels like a tight band is placed on your head, resulting in muscle tightness on your jaw and neck. This headache may be caused by emotional trauma, back muscle tension, neck, or shoulder pain.

Neck headache: The pain is also called cervicogenic pain and often results from neck problems. Pain-sensitive areas are found at the back of the head and the upper neck. Other areas such as the neck joints, ligaments, cervical spine lining, nerve roots and supporting muscles may also cause the pain.

Normally has a side dominance, painful and restricted neck movement. Pain on one or more of the upper cervical joints also occurs.

This headache feels like a tension headache or migraine.

Cluster headache: Cluster headaches are some of the most painful headaches. They usually occur at night (but may occur during the day) and cause intense pain on one side of the head, especially behind or around one eye. While the cause is not very well known, it is thought that the body’s biological clock (hypothalamus) plays a part in triggering the headaches.

There are no known common triggers, such as hormones, food, or stress.

Migraines: The headache presents in the form of pulsating or throbbing pain. It usually occurs on one side of the head and has associated symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, light and sound sensitivity. There can be an aura in the form of blurred vision or flashes (visual disturbance), hearing noises (tinnitus), auditory disturbance, difficulty speaking (verbal disturbances), and a feeling of pins and needles (sensory disturbances).

While the cause of this headache is not known, chemical imbalances (eg food allergies) and brainstem alterations are thought to be the biggest triggers.

When is it Time to Seek Help?

If you have the following characteristics, you may need to seek medical help for pathologic headaches.

• Your headaches come suddenly
• You get new headaches during pregnancy
• You have a history of HIV infection, cancer or trauma on the head
• Limb weakness, personality changes and vision changes (especially for migraine)
• Headaches that get worse despite actions to relieve the pain

Managing Common Headaches

Most of the headaches result from our everyday lifestyles, that can trigger pain. Headache physiotherapy treatment looks at the triggers associated with your body structure and lifestyle. Here are some of the areas.

• Posture: If you regularly arch your back, lower your shoulders and head, you need to get the right posture.

• Working: It is important to keep changing positions or at least stretching after a short while.

• Sleeping: The position of your neck and head as you sleep may strain the head and neck. You may need a better mattress and pillow.

• Exercise: If weak muscles on the neck, shoulders and limbs cause pain, exercise may help strengthen them.

• Relaxation: Emotional and physical stress is one of the most common triggers. There are relaxation techniques that can help relax muscles, joints and let go of the emotional strain.


If you suffer from headaches but are not sure if we can help, why not give us a call to talk to a physio for a Free Phone Consultation on 9144 1510 or better still, make an appointment.

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