What is a Migraine? Is a Neck Headache different?

Migraine and Other Headaches

If you are looking at this page, you are no doubt aware that headaches can be debilitating. A Migraine can also seriously affect your quality of life.  While some headaches are just annoying, others are so severe that they require bed rest. You are not alone in suffering headaches. More than three million Australians suffer from migraines or headaches, of which about fifteen percent take painkillers at some stage. 

What is a headache?

The term “headache” refers to pain felt in the head, brain, neck, jaw, eyes, ears or sinuses. Our brains register and interpret the pain impulses that reach it. But the brain cannot always identify the exact origin of the pain message. Instead of feeling pain in our upper neck you may feel it as a headache behind your eye. This is known as referred pain.

Headaches may be caused by mechanical, inflammatory or physiological (chemical) factors. They are also influenced by your fears, thoughts and beliefs. Some headache types, like Migraine, are more common in some families.

Physiotherapy for migraines and headaches

At In Touch Physiotherapy –

My aims are: 

  • To use my  specialist physiotherapy skills and experience
  • To work with you whatever your headache type or age.

My Mission is to:

  • Ease your headache 
  • Empower you with accurate information on diagnosis
  • Teach you more effective pain management techniques 
  • Recommend what to ask your doctor
  • Advise on self-care

My vision is to:

  • Eliminate, or lessen, the severity and frequency of your headaches
  • Help you feel more in control. 

Why put up with Headache?

Take the first step to restoring your optimal health by 

Contacting Helen at In Touch Physiotherapy.

How can I help to relieve your headache?

As a highly skilled Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist I perform a comprehensive examination then clarify the source of your headaches. Having a headache diagnosis will assist both of us to understand what we can do together to get you well. Knowing what headache type you have, also simplifies the selection of the best treatment. Sometimes  you may be experiencing several types of headache at once. This will only become clear if I examine in a methodical way to identify each component of your headache.

Mechanical or postural headaches are the most responsive to physiotherapy as much of what we do has a mechanical, physiological and neural basis. I will often suggest you speak to your doctor as aMigraine requires specific acute medication, while cluster headaches or neck related headaches respond to other medication types.

By asking you a series of questions I can help you identify factors that may be contributing to your headaches. Common factors are sitting too long, physical and emotional stress, poor sleep, grinding your teeth at night or simply dehydrating. Each headache sufferer is a unique individual with different contributing factors.

Headache relief from physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is a science-based approach to movement and health. Quality research evidence supports this. Physiotherapy is most effective for cervico-genic (neck-related) headaches, but can also assist with a migraine, tension-type and jaw-related headache. A national study I was part of in 2007, found that over 70 percent of those with neck headaches were more than 70 percent better after a six week physiotehrapy program. Most importantly the improvement lasted at 12 months. Ref:

Reference: G Jull, PT, PhD,* P Trott, PT, MSc,† Helen Potter, PT, MSc,‡G Zito, PT, Grad Dip Manip Ther, K Niere, PT, Mph, D Shirley, PT, BSc, J Emberson, MSc,# I Marschner, PhD,# and CRichardson, PT, PhD “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Exercise and Manipulative Therapy for Cervicogenic Headache”

SPINE Volume 27, Number 17, pp 1835–1843 ©2002, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

As a posture and movement expert, I analyse the way you sit, stand and move. Then I can see how your sensitised neck muscles, joints and nerve tissues may be affecting your headache . A forward head position places excess strain or compression on some tissues. If you allow your back to slump, your shoulders and neck muscles to tense it means the upper cervical joints are under compression. This may irritate the tissues and result in a mechanical or a cervico-genic headache.

Sensitisation of the nervous system and chronic movement restriction is then more easily provoked with the same factors. Even if you have migraine headaches your neck may be influencing their frequency or severity.

Your Initial Consultation

During your first consultation, my aim is to clarify the aspects of your headaches that I can change or help you to modify. My initial extended consultation with you will enable us to look at the background of your headache problem and medical history. By identifying what you want to achieve from your sessions we can focus on the most appropriate factors first. We can then discuss a plan for the most effective treatment available. My intervention includes gentle passive techniques and specific dynamic exercises aimed at improving your posture and motor control.

I will choose from gentle passive techniques and specific dynamic exercises to improve your posture, stabilising muscle endurance, and motor control.

Self-treatment exercises are useful to help resolve persistent changes. I try to make them simple and applicable to your life style. By enhancing the mechanical, physiological and psycho-social aspects of your body and mind, the impact of headaches on your life should reduce.

Benefits of the headache clinic

A clinic ensures you know that I will use my Specialist skills to focus on your headache.  Most importantly, I will explain what I am doing and provide you with reliable information. Accurate advice on practical methods is essential to help you manage your headaches in a more effective manner in the longer-term. Identifying what you want to achieve from your sessions with me is important.  

 Identifying what you want to achieve from your sessions with me is important as setting goals enables me to assess progress.

Latest treatments

As a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, I ensure that I am always up to date with the latest headache treatments. I am continuously adding to my extensive knowledge base and skill set to ensure you receive optimal treatment. Part of my role is to collaborate with your specialist, general practitioner and/or other health professionals for medical aspects of your headache.

Australian Physiotherapists

We are internationally renowned for our accurate diagnosis and effective treatments. I pride myself on being part of this collective pool of respected healers.

Reach your goals sooner with my specialist expertise and personalised care

Don’t suffer in silence, contact me today 9381 6166

More HA information pages coming soon

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