Headaches are a very common health condition that, unfortunately, people leave untreated. You don’t have to live through the head pain! Learn how our physiotherapist team in Kitchener (Lancaster and Driftwood), Waterloo, and Baden can diagnose and treat your headaches so that you can get back to your life pain-free.
Types of Headaches
Most people don’t actually know that there are different types of headaches that can all be treated differently. Broadly speaking, headaches can be categorized into two groups: primary and secondary. Headaches caused by issues with pain-sensitive structures in your head (not from any other underlying illness) are classified as primary headaches. On the other hand, secondary headaches are related to an underlying condition in your body like an injury or infection. Here’s a brief explanation of the four most common types of headaches we treat patients for at our clinics:
Type #1: Tension Headaches
Most people will probably experience a tension headache in their lifetime. They are often described as feelings of tightness across the head, as well as muscle tightness in the head, neck or jaw. Some common causes of tension headaches include physical or emotional stress and poor posture. Any kind of stress can result in the tightening of your back, neck, shoulders, and head muscles which may lead to tension headaches.
Type #2: Neck Headaches
Neck headaches are also referred to as cervicogenic headaches. These types of headaches are caused by any kind of underlying neck issue and are common because there are numerous pain-sensitive structures in this area. This is especially true located right at the junction of your upper neck and the back of your head as this area houses structures like joints, ligaments, nerve roots, and the lining of the cervical spine.
Type #3: Cluster Headaches
Known as one of the most painful types of headaches, the intense pain from cluster headaches often wake people up from their sleep. The pain usually radiates in, behind, or around your eye on one side of your head. Unlike other types of headaches, the causes are not clear and cluster headaches do not seem to share triggers with other head pain (like stress, hormonal changes, poor posture, or food).
Type #4: Migraines
Migraines are usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. The pain can be described as a severe throbbing or pulsing that normally impacts one side of your head. Like cluster headaches, the causes or triggers are not clear but genetic and environmental elements may play an important role.
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
The first way our physiotherapy team can help is to determine what type of headache you are actually experiencing. This diagnosis will help us decide the best course of treatment for your pain. The main goal of our treatment will always be to minimize and prevent your pain but the way we do this will vary from patient to patient. Since head pain is commonly associated with lifestyle choices, our treatment plans will often improve other areas of your life. Some benefits you can see from headache physiotherapy treatments include:
#1: Improved Posture
Poor posture is one of the leading causes of stress-related headaches. If you are not practicing good posture throughout the day, then it is likely you are experiencing general aches and pains that will lead to muscle tension and contribute to your head pain. Our team will work with you to improve your posture and prevent stress-related headaches.
#2: Neck Tension Release
Manual physiotherapy is common for headaches. This kind of treatment often leaves our patients having a better range of motion and reduced tension in their neck. Your neck muscles will thank you!
#3: Increased Strength
Our team will give you home exercises that will increase your strength. Often with headaches, we target the neck and upper back area (again to improve posture) so that you will be able to sit and stand longer without feeling discomfort.
One of the most rewarding benefits of headache physiotherapy is relaxation. We will help you learn to recognize when you are tense so that you can prevent tension headaches before they happen. Your physiotherapist can show you various relaxation techniques and may also refer you to your experienced massage therapists to further help you manage your stress.
Physiotherapy Headache Diagnosis
Before treatment begins, our physiotherapists will always work to accurately diagnose your headache by asking for medical history, the location of your pain, and performing some preliminary tests. Once we have a diagnosis, then we can create a custom treatment plan that is tailored to your specific pain and needs. We will also help you understand what is causing your headaches and how to prevent them in the future. As with any of our services, we pride ourselves on doing more than stopping and preventing pain. We always aim to educate our patients and arm them with effective techniques so that you have a full understanding of your treatment and feel more in control.
We hope this blog helps you better understand how our team can help with your headaches. Remember that you do not need to accept your head pain just because headaches feel like quite a common thing to experience! Let’s do something about your head pain. We have plenty of Physiotherapy Services (in Kitchener, Baden, and Waterloo) to help you get back to living your life pain-free – contact our team with any questions you have!
Want more lifestyle advice on how to improve your overall health and wellness? Contact our Livewell Health and Physiotherapy Kitchener (Lancaster and Driftwood), Baden, or Waterloo teams to get more information and book your next appointment. You can also reach out to us by email or social media and one of our team members would be more than happy to answer any of your questions! All of our practitioners have more tips and expert guidance to help improve the overall quality of your life.