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Headaches are very common, and sufferers know how disruptive and inconvenient a severe headache or migraine attack can be. It impacts on you, but also on your immediate family and friends, preventing you from enjoying life to the full.

Tension type headaches are very common and will affect over 80% of people at some stage of their lives.

There are over 300 types of headache but most fall into three categories:

  • Migraine
  • Tension Type Headache
  • Cervicogenic Headache (neck headache)

Causes

Head pain can have many causes, not just migraine.

Some uncommon causes of your head pain may be sinister, and might include brain tumours, aneurysms, meningitis and other systemic illnesses. These are rare and would require a thorough investigation.

Therefore accurate diagnosis is essential to help guide the appropriate treatment of headache conditions. Correctly identifying the cause will lead to better treatment.

Migraines

Are a chronic neurological disorder characterised by episodic attacks of head pain and associated symptoms.

Migraine pain will always present on one side only (although the side can change between attacks). The pain is often described as throbbing and is of moderate to severe intensity. The pain will cause avoidance of normal activities such as attending school or going to work.

Sufferers will usually have one or more of nausea, photophobia (hypersensitivity to light), and photophobia (hypersensitivity to noise).

Migraine headaches can last between 4 hours and – in extreme cases – for up to three days.

Tension Headache

Is the most common type of primary headache. The forehead, upper neck and temple regions may experience a tight band sensation causing varying severity of pain for the sufferer.

Stress and tension are major causes of this type of headache; poor postures and tight or weak muscles are usually a contributing factor.

As the symptoms are not as severe as migraine, tension headache is only considered a problem if it becomes frequent or chronic.

Cervicogenic Headaches

Originate from the neck typically as a result of dysfunction of the joints located at the upper aspect of the neck. This may be due to sudden neck movements (e.g. whiplash), a trauma during sports or heavy lifting at work or in the garden.

A constant, dull ache may be present in the back of the head, top of the forehead, behind the eye, in the temple region or less commonly, around the jaw or ear. The headache can usually be associated with neck pain, stiffness and difficulty turning the neck. Symptoms may also increase on firmly touching the affected level of the spine, usually on one side of the neck, just below the base of the skull. Occasionally other symptoms may be present such as pins and needles, numbness, dizziness, nausea or light headedness.

There are several factors which can predispose patients to developing cervicogenic headache. These need to be assessed and corrected to alleviate and eliminate the pain.

These include:

• Poor posture
• Neck and upper back stiffness
• Muscle imbalances
• Muscle weakness
• Muscle tightness
• Previous neck trauma (e.g. whiplash)
• Inappropriate desk setup
• Inappropriate pillow or sleeping postures
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Stress
• Dehydration

Good news

You can take very quick and safe steps to prevent or alleviate most headache episodes.

Our physiotherapists at Gosforth Physio and Wellness are highly skilled experts in diagnosis, treatment, education and prevention of headaches.

Early diagnosis and treatment is essential to aid speedy recovery from headaches and help prevent recurrence.

Treatment

We use our head before we use our hands!

At Gosforth Physiotherapy and Wellness we are specialists in assessment, diagnosis, treatment and education of pain and dysfunction from neuro- musculoskeletal headache conditions. Once a detailed assessment is completed and we have established your diagnosis all appropriate treatment options will be discussed with you.

You can be sure that you’re placing your health in the right hands.

Treatments include:

  • Manual Therapy
  • Mobilisation
  • Manipulation
  • Acupuncture
  • Dry needling
  • Massage
  • Taping
  • Soft Tissue Release
  • Trigger Point Muscle Release
  • Muscle Energy Techniques
  • Postural Education / Advice
  • Postural Strengthening

You will be taught specific strengthening, stretching and Pilates exercises to perform at home to enhance and speed up your recovery, allowing you to effectively self manage your problem.

It is very rare that an MRI scan or X Ray is required. However, if your Physiotherapist or you feel that further investigation is necessary we can arrange private scans quickly. Referrals can be arranged in 2-5 days at The Newcastle Clinic and at North Tyneside MRI Centre.

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