HEADACHE TREATMENTS

PHYSIOTHERAPY TREATMENT FOR HEADACHES AND MIGRAINE

What is it?

Headaches and migraines are the second leading cause of worldwide disability. If you have ever had one, you will understand how it can affect your life and impact your productivity.

Headaches and migraines are characterized by pain anywhere in the head and neck and can be one-sided or both. They can feel very localized in the head or they may feel vague and generalized achiness. The pain that you can experience may be sharp, stabbing, or a throbbing sensation.

Migraines can be accompanied by auras and can sometimes cause nausea and vomiting in more severe cases.

Headaches and migraines can occur spontaneously or during activity. You may suffer an acute episode or have them on a chronic basis.

The good news is that EastWest Physiotherapy can help.

What Causes It?

There are many causes and types of headaches and migraines (over 150!). The common type is the tension headache. Our registered Physiotherapists often observe that muscle tension, trigger points, and joint issues contribute to the worsening of a headache or migraine.

Muscle Tension And Trigger Points

In our opinion, this is often the most overlooked source of pain in the head and neck. Stretches can sometimes relieve symptoms of headaches temporarily. However, they are not effective in releasing muscular trigger points.

Headache Areas

In the diagram above (trigger points marked by X), you can see that different parts of the muscles can refer pain to the head and neck.

Cervical Joint Stiffness/Irritation

Another common cause of headaches and migraines is the facet joints in the neck. As you can see in the diagram below, irritation to each joint in the neck can refer to a different region of the head. These may have a wider and more diffuse pain pattern compared to trigger points above.

Migrain Area in Human Head

Other causes can also contribute to headaches and migraines. These causes can lead back to an increase in muscle and joint sensitivity which results in pain.  

How Can Physiotherapy Help?

In our Burnaby Physiotherapy practice, we will conduct a comprehensive history assessment. This allows us to see how we can best treat your headache or migraine.

physiotherapy for migraineThere are many different causes and triggers for headaches, so it is important to try to address those as best we can. For example, some may be caused by poor sleep habits, bad posture, dietary changes, and stress. Certain lifestyle habits can increase tension in the head, neck, and shoulders. This can lead to increased sensitivity in the joints, muscles, and nerves. Trigger points may develop which amplifies headaches and migraines.

Our Physiotherapists have many years of treating headaches and migraines. We take a holistic approach in our treatment to help our clients. Some of our clients have suffered years of headaches and migraines. They have resigned to the thought that they need to live with it for the rest of their lives.

No Cookie-Cutter Approach

Physiotherapy treatment for headaches and migraines is different for everyone. After all, we have different genetic makeup, ages, lifestyles, and stress tolerance.  Some patients may have acute flare ups of headaches, while others have suffered for a long time. Physiotherapy treatments for headaches and migraines can be provided for all. They will need to be reassessed and may be adjusted to see what works the best for the individual.

Physiotherapy Treatments For Headaches And Migraines

Our Physiotherapists may use various combinations of Eastern and Western treatment techniques. This will depend on your tolerance, needs, and recommendations from our Physiotherapists.

Manual Therapy – using specific joint mobilizations and soft tissue techniques. Manual therapy can help loosen stiff and irritable joints and muscles.

Acupuncture – used to help provide homeostasis and balance to the body. It can also help promote relaxation, improve circulation and decrease stress.

Dry Needling/IMS – used to desensitize painful joints/muscles and speed up recovery. Can also help release trigger points that are resistant to manual therapy.

Cupping Therapy – used to help promote blood flow to affected areas. Can also promote relaxation of soft tissues

Exercise Therapy – teaches you proper stretches and strengthening exercises. Exercises can help alleviate stiffness, weakness, and imbalances in the body.

Education And Lifestyle Triggers

While physiotherapy treatment for headaches and migraines is important, it is imperative that you try to make appropriate changes in your lifestyle. This can help reduce the impact of those triggers. Keeping hydrated, doing some deep breathing exercises, and changing positions frequently while you are working can help. Holistic Physiotherapy treatment for headaches and migraines requires multiple approaches to optimize your recovery. Like a puzzle, you need all the pieces in place to achieve the best outcome.

Physiotherapy treatments for headaches and migraines can be provided by your Registered Physiotherapists at EastWest Physiotherapy. Visit us and see how we can help.

Call 604 398 2936 and speak to any of our staff to learn more or schedule an appointment.
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