Headaches are one of the most common ailments in modern society. Headaches may have many different causes although most headaches aren’t serious and can be treated with simple pain relief medication or lifestyle changes. Too much alcohol, not enough fluids (dehydration), stress and lack of sleep are all common triggers for a headache.
Headaches fall into 3 general categories: tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches and migraines. Physiotherapy can be effective for tension and cervicogenic headaches, but is not likely to be helpful for a migraine.
Tension headaches are caused by tightness and stiffness in the neck and shoulders and is often related to poor posture or stress. The muscles in the neck become tight and pull on the head, producing pain across the base of the skull and up and over the scalp.
Cervicogenic headaches are specifically headaches caused by dysfunction in the top few joints in the cervical spine (C1 and C2). Cervicogenic headaches are more commonly one sided and radiate to the temple region and perhaps to the eye. Physiotherapy can be very helpful for treating both cervicogenic and tension headaches.
Migraines are severe headaches that are usually caused by hormonal imbalances which can be set off by “triggers” such as allergies, diet or certain foods, environmental factors such as pollution or bright lights, stress, fatigue or other psychological factors. These triggers cause an imbalance in the serotonin level in the body. If you suffer from regular migraines it is recommended you see your GP for investigation and management.