Headaches are a common condition that the vast majority of people suffer from at some point in their lives. Headaches can range in severity from just a short lived, mild ache to a regular or constant debilitating pain that can completely change a person’s quality of life.
There are many classifications of headache, each with different presentations and causes. The vast majority of headaches are not serious and are part of life, but headaches that become constant or severe should be investigated by a medical professional. Below we will discuss the different types of headaches and how they can best be managed with physiotherapy.
Primary Headaches are pains within the head that do not originate from any medical condition. Common types of primary headaches are:
Cluster headaches - Normally lasting 5 minutes to several hours with pain located around the eye. These headaches can occur multiple times during a day, over a period of weeks to months.
Tension headaches - The most common form of primary headache. Pain is normally located across both sides of the head and in some cases the neck. They can present as episodic or chronic.
Migraine Headaches - A well known form of severe headaches that can cause debilitating symptoms including pain, nausea and blurred vision.
Thunderclap headaches - These are sudden onset of severe headaches with pain lasting from 30 seconds up to several minutes. They are unique in their severity and can indicate serious conditions. The majority are primary headaches, however up to a quarter can indicate an underlying medical condition.
Secondary Headaches are pains within the head caused by medical conditions such as dehydration, concussion and bleeding on the brain.
Cervicogenic headaches are a common cause of secondary headaches. These are headaches originating from the soft tissue and bones of the neck where pain spreads up to the head. These are the most common headaches managed by physiotherapy interventions.
The first aim of assessment will be to establish if the headaches are in need of further investigation to rule out any serious underlying conditions. If the symptoms do not warrant an onward referral, the physiotherapist will focus on establishing the cause of the headaches and provide treatment. During the assessment your physiotherapist will ask about:
Headaches have a variety of causes and each individual will have their own triggers. In rare cases the cause can indicate a serious underlying condition. We advise further investigation in cases of severe or longstanding headaches with additional symptoms in other parts of the body. The majority of headaches are not related to anything serious. Common causes are:
A thorough examination will be carried out to screen for any serious underlying symptoms and to establish if the cause of the headaches originates from the neck and shoulders or the head itself. Depending on the findings and the triggers, appropriate advice and treatment can be provided. Common treatment options include:
In some cases, an onward referral for cognitive behavioural therapy is indicated for individuals suffering from stress, anxiety and depression.
If you are looking for a local home physiotherapist to assist you with your headaches, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us for a consultation. Contact us on the form below, phone 0208 659 7252 or email - email@example.com