My Physiotherapy Intervention for Headaches

Karl Sechrist   December 22, 2016   Comments Off on My Physiotherapy Intervention for Headaches

bad-headacheFor the past few weeks, I’ve been having sporadic headaches during the day. Personally, I can’t pinpoint the reasons as to why I’ve been experiencing them frequently and where they actually occurs. On some days they are isolated on the right side of my head, sometimes they occur on both. But most recently, I felt it stemming from the back of my neck. 

I realize that headaches are more than just the pain in the head. During those times that I experience a sharp or thrubbing pain in my head, my productivity level goes down and my whole body gets affected. I tend to focus on the pounding or the aching of my head, and the condition feels a lot worse. Most of the time, I’d spend at least an hour to lie down, rest my head, and apply whatever ointment I have, trying to relieve the bad headache. What was wrong in my routine of treating my headache was that I never really knew what type of headache I had. Acknowledging my faults, I finally decided to consult an expert, since it was also very inconvenient and agonizing for me. 

The doctor I went to recommended me to try acquiring a physiotherapy service by Wyndham Physio and Rehabilitation. I really do believe that the every advice and procedure my doctor advises me is gospel truth, but when she told me this, I was confused for a moment. Why was she telling me to visit a physiotherapist when I was experiencing pain in the head? Don’t they just massage their patients or just teach them a couple of exercises to do at home? Can a physiotherapist help your headache? To find out, I drove to the nearest Wyndham center near my home three days after my check-up. 

The physiotherapist that greeted me in Wyndham was very accommodating and cheerful. From the moment I stepped into her office, I instantly felt at ease and comfortable around her. The first thing I did was to recall all the times I experienced my headache, where I felt it, and the activities I did for the day. She also asked me the daily tasks that I do, my eating habits, and my exercise schedule, if I had any. Honestly, it really felt like I was talking to a regular doctor and not to a therapist. After listening to my account, she asked my permission if she could my touch my neck, to try to locate where the pain from my recent headache is coming from. After reacting from certain areas that tingle my head, she then gave me a brief background on headaches so that I would know how to stop them from reoccurring. 

As far as I can recall, there are different types of headaches, coming from various reasons, which require specific treatments and measures. There are primary headaches and secondary headaches. Primary headaches are those come from the brain, as a result of stress, overthinking, and overactivity. Since the brain is too pressured and tense, there is a change of chemicals being dispelled, causing headaches like migraine and cluster headaches. On the other hand, secondary headaches are those that come from another condition or sickness, then stimulating pain in the nerves. For example, headaches after having hangovers or result because of brain tumors fall under this type. According to my physiotherapist my case was a secondary headache called a cervicogenic headache. 

She explained that a cervicogenic headache occurs when there is too much strain on my neck ligaments and joints. When this force builds up, the neck muscles cause stress and this can be felt by different parts of the body such as the head, the forehead, the jaw, and the back of the eyes. The possible reasons for my headache could be poor posture, injury, or damage from prolonged bowing or tilting of the head. When I heard these, the most probable culprit of my headache was my improper posture and stance. 

Other things she mentioned about my condition was that this headache is experienced 4 times as much by women than men on a daily basis. The wearing of heels and carrying of heavy handbags on the bag or one side of the shoulders contribute to a poor posture, which gives tensions to about 20 muscles from the three upper vertebra, upwards. Likewise, this headache is side-specific, similar to migraines, and does not switch sides from time to time. 

So now that we’ve both informed each other of the case, how does physiotherapy assessment and treatment help? In distinguishing the frequency, severity, location, and duration of the headaches, physiotherapists are able to identify to root of the problem and then start to solve it from there. My physiotherapist crafted a program for me to follow every day to wake up certain dormant muscles and to improve the range of motion of some joints. At the same time, the exercise develops discipline and consciousness in my actions and in my posture. Since my condition wasn’t severe yet, I didn’t need medications such as ibuprofen, an analgesic, or an anti-inflammatory drug. The whole first session was really interesting and eye-opening since my physiotherapist was not trying to solve the problem itself, rather, the root of the problem. For a few minutes, she massaged a part of back and neck, and then taught me a few exercises to instigate natural mobilization of ligaments and muscles. 

In the end, I realized that a physiotherapist is not just the typical masseuse with a professional title.  Physiotherapists and their treatments instigate treatments at the origin of pain so that they it will no longer lead to other problems such as headaches. And my last realization was headaches don’t solely involve the brain, it includes other body parts as well, so it’s important to be conscious of all our body movements and activities.