Headaches are common complaint that will affect the majority of the population at some point in their lifetime. There are many different types of headaches, and therefore potential causes, including cervicogenic, tension type, migraine and cluster. The following describes the most common types:
Cervicogenic refers to facial pain and headaches from the upper neck. These types of headaches usually respond very well to physiotherapy through postural correction, manual therapy and exercise.
Tension type headaches
Are usually felt as tension across the forehead or both sides of the head. They may be associated symptoms such as stiffness and tightness in the neck and shoulder region, which can benefit from physiotherapy treatment including acupuncture. Although appropriate rest may also be required to allow tension headaches to resolve.
Are a vascular related phenomenon and are best managed with appropriate medication and rest. Although physiotherapy can treat any related symptoms such as muscular tightness in the neck or shoulders.
Are sometimes described as an ice pick headache felt behind the eye. There are usually associated sympathetic nervous system responses such as weeping of the eye or sinuses. Cluster headache treatment is more complex but medication may be the best way of managing the condition.
Could be considered similar to cervicogenic headaches however in this instance the facial pain and headache is actually referred from the jaw joint itself. There would be associated difficulty with jaw movement such as chewing or clenching which could be provocative.
It is essential that thorough examination of the headache is performed to allow the physiotherapist treat appropriately.