WITH PHYSIOTHERAPIST ELRINA VAN ZYL
One of the most common reasons my clients come to see me is for the relief of their headaches and / or migraines.
We all suffer headaches occasionally and mostly we soldier on with the help of some painkillers. However regular headaches can be debilitating affecting your quality of life severely leaving you bad tempered, unable to concentrate and function in everyday life.
There are different types of headaches, all with different causes therefore treatment can vary from one type to another. However, all headaches lead to tension in the neck and shoulder area due to the posture you assume caused by the pain you’re in. This tension can then lead to further headaches due to poor posture in the neck region.
The most common type of headache caused by poor posture and muscle tension is a tension headache – aching and pressure around the head, particularly in the temple area or the back of the head.
Many people suffer from allergies which can lead to infection in the sinus areas causing headaches due to infection and congestion in the face.
These are felt more in the areas above and below the eyes and often have a corresponding toothache in the upper jaw region. Sometimes these may need treatment for the infection if fevers are involved.
Migraines are another common headache. They are often accompanied by sensitivity to light and noise, nausea / vomiting and numbness in the hand. Pain is one sided and severe and stops sufferers from getting on with their daily lives.
Occasionally migraines are preceded by symptoms called aura – sufferers then have the chance to take preventative medication avoiding the onset.
These can be recognised by their cyclical nature and sudden onset – no cause or cure is yet known. What we do know is that they affect men more than women and typically come on suddenly with debilitating one-sided pain in the head and nasal or eye symptoms.
Other types of headaches
Then there are headaches caused by medication or withdrawal as well as allergies or intolerances to certain foods. Gradually cutting back on medication or allergens may help alleviate these types.
Dull headaches are often a symptom of dehydration – keeping up hydration levels throughout the day will sort those out.
Other common triggers are lifestyle factors like lack of exercise, skipping meals, toxins in the environment, poor sleep quality and poor weight management.
Physiotherapy can be very successful in treating headaches by addressing posture, lifestyle, stress management and releasing muscle tension around the affected areas as well as bringing the whole body back in balance.
Acupuncture can also be helpful in providing short term relief for tension and migraine headaches.