By Michael Hall
Of all treatments, headache treatment probably ranks as probably the most misunderstood and confusing. Few complaints are more common than headaches or head pain. Yet, despite their frequency, much confusion and ignorance still surrounds the source and cause of headaches as well as to what constitutes the most effective headache treatment in Melbourne.
In fact for many years, the neck was completely ignored as a possible source of headaches by all the medical literature despite a considerable amount of evidence to the contrary. And indeed when headache was described it was given an incomplete, vague description, often only being referred to as tension headaches. Yet, this is despite the fact that muscle tension is not painful, but may lead to other structures such as joints and nerves to becoming painful.
Classification of Headaches
Many headache specialists in Melbourne classify headaches according to their presentation. This is important as it directs the most effective treatment for each condition. This classification includes:
1. Non-recurring headaches
2. Recurring headaches
(i) Migraine (vascular) headaches type
(ii) Headaches originating from cervical spine (neck) dysfunction
(iii) Combined migraine and cervical spine headaches
The Difference between migraine and cervical spine headaches
As physiotherapy treatment or physical therapy for headaches is most effective with neck related headaches, they must be differentiated from migraines which respond best to migraine headache treatments. These differentiating features include:
Periodicity: Neck headaches display a history of increasing periodicity and do not abate with age. In contrast, migraine headache periodicity hardly changes until they abate later in life. Headaches due to the jaw joint (TMJ) have an irregular periodicity. This factor differentiates cervical headaches from migraine headaches more reliably than any other factor.
Intensity of Pain: Neck headaches may be as painful as migraine headaches, though their intensity is more variable. The intensity of migraines is always severe.
Response to Painkillers (analgesia medication): A decreasing response to analgesics suggests a cervical origin. Migraine headaches in contrast respond minimally to compound analgesics (e.g. Panadeine Forte) and not at all to simple analgesics.
Onset: The onset of migraine headache is usually related to puberty whereas neck headaches may occur at any time in life.
Location of Pain: Both types of headache may refer pain to any part of the head. If pain encroaches on to the face it may also be referred from the TMJ.
Nature of Pain: Both headaches may present with the same pain characteristics including throbbing, pressure, pounding, gnawing and sickening sensations.
Triggers: Neck headaches can be triggered by all the migraine trigger factors.
Accompanying Symptoms: Neck headaches and migraine headaches commonly display the same symptoms such as visual disturbances, tinnitis, vomiting and dizziness.
The Sources of Headache
Pain arises from the dilation (that follows initial constriction) of pain sensitive arteries in the head. The cause of this vasoconstriction is not yet known. Headache is never the only symptom and may not even be a feature of the attacks. Migraine headache treatment is therefore directed to avoiding the triggers of migraine headache and preventing the migraine causing vasodilation of blood vessels.
Degenerative changes in the joints of the upper cervical spine (i.e. the 1st 3 cervical spine joints) are the primary source of neck headaches. The reason for this is that at these levels there is the greatest overlap of the nerves which supply sensation to the face and head (i.e. the cervical and Trigeminal nerves). Consequently, any irritation of structures close to these nerves may cause these nerves to transmit pain and lead to headaches. This irritation may occur in a single injuring event (e.g. whiplash) or over many years of poor posture and repetitive movement patterns. Through this, the lower cervical and thoracic spines may be a secondary source of headaches as if they become stiff (through poor posture), the upper cervical spine has to compensate by moving more, and it is this compensation which leads to degeneration and pain.
The Best Headaches Treatment
Bodywise Health headache physiotherapists have been delivering effective relief from headaches to people in the Bayside suburbs of Hampton, Brighton, Sandringham, Highett, Cheltenham, Elsternwick, Elwood, Black Rock and Beaumaris for more than 20 years.
The contact details for Bodywise Health may be found by googling migraine headache treatment, headache treatment Bayside, headache treatment Bayside, headache treatment Brighton, headache treatment Hampton and headache treatment Cheltenham.
Headache treatment gives the best results when it is guided by your presentation, a comprehensive, professional assessment and the clinical findings, your goals as well as your ongoing response to treatment.
The most effective physical therapy for headaches involve a combination of “hands on” therapy, electrotherapy, as well as physical conditioning and movement/relaxation retraining. This last point is extremely important because often it is poor posture/movement patterns which either perpetuate pain and dysfunction or cause it in the first place. It follows therefore that if the causes of headaches are not corrected, then only short term relief will be experienced.
If you live in the Bayside suburbs of Hampton, Brighton, Sandringham, Highett, Cheltenham, Elsternwick, Elwood, Black Rock and Beaumaris or more generally Melbourne and you want to achieve sustained relief from your headaches; if you want to be shown the physical, nutritional and psychological keys which will help to free you from headaches forever; if you want to take back control and reclaim your health and your life, then call us here at Bodywise Health on 1 300 BODYWISE (263 994) and begin your journey back to living your life without headaches.
For more information or for an appointment, please call 1 300 BODYWISE (263 994).
• Rebates are available through your private insurance extras cover;
• For complex or chronic conditions, you may qualify for the EPC (Enhanced Primary Care Program) allowing you to receive 5 allied health services each calendar year with a referral from your GP. For more information, please call Bodywise Health now on 1 300 263 994.