If you experience frequent headaches and can’t seem to get rid of them you may be looking to the wrong solution. When we get a headache, we may put it down to any one of a list of reasons such as: “I’m dehydrated, I haven’t had a coffee, I need more sleep!” But what does it mean when you drink more water, or wake up feeling rested and that dull ache is still hanging around?
It may surprise you to know that headaches can be caused by strain and tension in other parts of your body – often caused by bad posture. Known as cervical headaches or cervicogenic headaches, these often go undiagnosed simply because people don’t know what they are or how easily they can be treated by physiotherapy.
HOW DOES BAD POSTURE CAUSE A HEADACHE?
Think about it. From sitting at a computer all day to constantly looking down at our phones, we cause spend a lot of time hunched over or slouched, causing stress and tension in on our necks and backs.
Gradually this begins to irritate some of the sensory nerves. When that happens the pain receptors in the neck and head ricochet upwards – causing pain in our neck and shoulder and ultimately in our heads.
WHAT SYMPTOMS SHOULD YOU LOOK OUT FOR?
If you think you have a cervical headache you should visit a physiotherapist for an official consultation, but in the meantime there are some common symptoms you can look out for.
Cervical headaches are often associated with neck pain and stiffness and they can often get worse when you move your neck and head. You may also feel light headed and find it hard to concentrate. If you have a headache and any of these symptoms, it’s likely there is a connection.
HOW CAN A PHYSIOTHERAPIST HELP WITH YOUR HEADACHE?
Having a headache is never fun, but the good news is there is manual therapy for headaches which can alleviate the symptoms and tackle the heart of the problem, head-on. Here are a few treatments a physio may focus on:
- Posture correction: As bad posture is learnt over time, it can take a little while to correct it. Your physio may recommended specific exercises, posture awareness techniques, taping or a posture brace. Our physiotherapists offer a free postural assessment during which we evaluate the positioning of your body and limbs in order to identify any physical abnormalities that may be causing pain or discomfort.
- Massage: Specific massage may be used to help loosen up stiff neck joints with joint mobilization, traction or manipulation.
- Ergonomic Assessment: Depending on your work situation, your physio may recommend you have an ergonomic assessment of your desk and can provide some tips on how to set up your workspace to improve posture.
- Stretches: Depending on where the pain is, your physio may recommend some daily stretches that will not only help reduce your symptoms but hopefully prevent them from returning in the future.
- Strength exercises: Your physio may prescribe strength-building exercises. Strengthening muscles, such as your shoulder blade, neck and also your abdominal muscles, can really help improve posture.
If you’re suffering from headaches and think bad posture may be to blame, make an appointment with one of our physiotherapists today to have the source of your neck pain or headaches diagnosed and managed with appropriate treatment.