Demystifying Headaches

Headache Pain

Demystifying Headaches

This month we’re all about headaches – that relentless throb that can turn a cheerful day into a struggle. But if you’re suffering from something else (or suffering from too intense a headache to even read this) don’t worry – there won’t be a test at the end. Call us anytime on (02) 9438 1782 to make an appointment with one of the physiotherapists at St Leonard’s Physiotherapy.  But if you’d like to learn a bit more about headaches, their causes, and what your physiotherapist can do to help. Read on.

It’s tempting to reach for painkillers at the first sign of a headache, but physiotherapy might be more helpful in the long term. Of course, what we can do to help depends on what type of headaches you suffer from. In some instances, we’re the superheroes, rescuing you from the torment of headaches and getting right to their root cause. (Especially if the headache originates from problems in the neck.) Sometimes we’re “just” allies in the battle, blocking that chain reaction of pain triggering tension and therefore more pain. But how? Let’s start by understanding the different types of headaches and the anatomy, neurology, and hormones involved. 

1. Tension-Type Headaches: Muscles in Knots

Tension-type headaches, the everyday warriors of head pain, often arise from clenched muscles in the neck and scalp. Just think of those times when deadlines and stress have you tensing up like a spring. That tension (since modern stressors rarely allow you to just release the spring) forms knots in muscles, which can impede movement and cause you pain long after the stressful situation is resolved. This is one of the headache varieties where physiotherapy is the superhero. Think of the team at St Leonards Physiotherapy as your muscle whisperers. Through techniques like soft tissue massage and manual therapy, physiotherapists coax those knotted muscles to release, alleviating the tightness that triggers these headaches.

2. Migraines: The Neurological Symphony

Now, let’s talk migraines – the intricate symphony of neurology and hormones. In this grand performance, blood vessels widen and then narrow, sending pain signals that cause throbbing agony. Neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine play a role too. But fear not, for here comes physiotherapy’s gentle touch. We can’t cure migraines, but we may be able to enhance your body’s coping mechanisms, by using massage to decrease muscle tension and equipping you with relaxation techniques to help you manage stress. This won’t banish migraines, but it can make them less frequent and less intense.

3. Cluster Headaches: The Hypothalamus Hijinks

Enter the enigmatic cluster headaches. Less common but more intense, these follow a rhythm of their own. Their origins lie within the hypothalamus. This area controls your body’s internal clock, among other functions. During cluster headache episodes, the hypothalamus seems to misfire. Physiotherapy is a sidekick not the hero in this story since cluster headaches require specialised medical intervention. But we’re proud to play Robin to other healthcare provider’s Batman, addressing any muscle tension that arises from these intense headaches so that the pain isn’t exacerbated further.

4. Sinus Headaches: The Nose Knows

Sinus headaches are a trickier tale. They mimic migraines but originate from inflamed sinuses. When your sinuses are clogged due to allergies or infections, pain ensues. This isn’t within the realm of physiotherapy’s direct influence, but we might still be able to help. Physiotherapists might work with you to improve your breathing, which can improve sinus drainage. While we can’t eradicate the root cause, these exercises could offer some relief.

5. Cervicogenic Headaches: Neck Matters

Now, the spotlight turns to cervicogenic headaches. These stealthy culprits originate from the neck or cervical spine. Picture this: poor posture, muscle imbalances, or even a past neck injury. Your neck’s intricate structure and its connection to the head can lead to referred pain. Here’s where physiotherapy strides in as the hero. By identifying and addressing the root causes, physiotherapists create tailored plans. They guide you through exercises to strengthen weak muscles, improve neck flexibility, and correct posture. With manual therapy, they ease muscle tension and enhance joint mobility. Physiotherapy directly targets the source of these headaches, providing a path to potentially lasting relief.

So, if you suspect your headaches originate from muscular tension or neck misalignment we should be your first point of call. But if you’ve identified a different cause the physiotherapists at St Leonards Physiotherapy are still here to help. Call us on (02) 9438 1782. Did you know we’re also on social media. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more fascinating and helpful info. 

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