There are many types of headaches and seeking relief from headaches is a very common reason to visit a physiotherapist or massage therapist. A thorough assessment is needed to determine the type of headache and the best management approach. This assessment also helps determine if referral to a doctor is needed for things like medical tests or medications. Many headaches are caused or aggravated by joint problems in the neck or jaw, muscle tension in the neck, shoulder blades or face, muscle weakness or imbalance and poor posture. After considering your history and physical signs, if your headaches appear to be related to some of these issues your therapist will discuss a treatment plan with you and will prescribe a specific program tailored to your needs.
Headaches are very common and there are numerous types and causes including:
- Tension Type
- Cervical (neck)
- Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)
- Post-Traumatic/ Post Concussion
Most headaches will involve neck pain to some degree, but that does not always mean that neck pain is the cause.
Tension type headaches are the most common and are suffered by up to three-quarters of the population. They can range from a mild occasional headache to more frequent and disabling. Unlike migraines they do not cause nausea or vomiting and they are not made worse with physical activity. Muscles of the face, scalp, neck and shoulder blades are tender to touch.
Treatment can include
- Posture and ergonomic education
- Acupuncture and/or Dry needling
- Strength exercises
- Relaxation/stress management suggestions
Headaches with the neck and/or jaw (Temporomandibular Joint, TMJ) as a root cause are also fairly common and these are often very effectively managed by physiotherapy and massage therapy. Very specific strength exercises for the deep muscles of your neck, mid back and shoulder blades can often really make the difference in your ability to manage or eliminate these types of headaches.
Most headaches will involve neck pain to some degree, but that does not always mean that neck pain is the cause. A detailed assessment by one of our therapists will include analysing the mobility and stability of your neck and jaw joints, checking your muscle flexibility and strength and looking for the presence of tight tender bands in the muscle that may refer pain to your head. With this information we will assist you to find the best management plan for your headache.