Headaches and Migraines

There are many different descriptions of headaches and if you talk to people they will tell you exactly what type of headache they suffer from. Cluster headaches, tension headaches, migraines, red wine headaches, washing your hair headaches and the list goes on and on (and is getting longer every year).

It was originally thought that a migraine was due to increased blood flow into the brain which caused increased pressure and was interpreted by the brain as pain. Recent research has shown this to be incorrect.

In fact the latest research by the Watson Headache Institute has shown that a migraine has the exact same pathology as every other type of headache (just a lot more severe in intensity). So no matter the type of headache, how severe it is or where you feel it basically all headaches have a common factor that physiotherapy can help to ease.

old man with aching head

The common factor is increased sensitisation of the brain stem which causes feedback to the brain and gives you the pain of a headache. The brain stem sits at the base of the brain and is the link between the brain and the spinal cord and as such is an important filter of information and our senses (including pain). It is part of normal pain pathway that our brain uses when we have headache or migraine pain. When is is sensitised it means a small trigger can set off a headache or migraine and cause impairment in your thinking and severely interfere with your life.

The brain stem actually protrudes into the upper 3 levels of your spine. Treatment of these upper 3 levels of your spine can decrease the sensitivity of the brain stem and help to reduce the severity of headaches or migraines as well as make them come on less often. In some cases this treatment will stop the headaches altogether.

Exercises to stretch out tight muscles in the upper spine and reduce tension on the brain stem area can be performed at home and can also have a positive effect on your headaches. In some cases when you feel a headache or migraine coming on the exercises will help to stop or reduce the intensity of your headache.

So the good news is that no matter what type of headache you have physiotherapy can help in over 80% of cases to either reduce or get rid of the headache. Don’t put up headaches or migraines ruining your life – call us on 9635 3333 for an appointment today.

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