Headaches are very common. We understand how the headache fog and pain can take over your life causing you to under-perform at work and at home.
See below to find out –
1. Causes of headache
2. Things you can do from home to help your headache
3. Things you should take notice of about your headache
4. How long it will take to get better
Causes of Neck-Related Headache
There are many different causes of neck-related headaches. Below are the most common causes that can be treated with physiotherapy.
Neck Ligament Sprain
Nerve Damage or Irritation
Prolonged Poor Posture
Poor Sleeping Position
Weak Neck Muscles
Weak Shoulder Muscles
Facet Joint Degeneration
Repetitive or Strenuous Lifting
Help your headache from home
Here are some things that you can do from home to help prevent your headache from worsening.
1. Keep your neck moving by gently looking up, down, left and right 5x every hour.
2. Use your heat bag 20minutes morning and night to help relax muscle spasm.
3. Keep your neck warm in winter with a scarf to help reduce muscle spasm.
4. Reduce the length of time you spend craning your neck forward (looking at your computer) or looking down (cooking). If you are unable to reduce these activites, make sure to regularly look up to help counteract the activities.
5. Gently massage your neck. Start around the base of your skull and work your way down the sides of your neck and down into your shoulders. You can do this yourself or get a family member or friend to massage for you. The best time to massage is after you have used the heat bag or after a warm shower.
6. Avoid excessive or heavy lifting, pulling or pushing.
7. Sleep with a physio approved pillow. This pillow aims to support both your neck and head, keeping your spine in alignment while you rest. This helps to prevent worsening of your headache and can even reduce your headache.
8. See your physio. Usually, the sooner you recieve physio treatment, the less treatments you will need.
Get to know your headache
Not all headaches are the same. Here are 3 things to consider about your headache. Taking notice of these things will help your physio treat your headache more effectively and ensure that your headache is neck related.
1.Take note of how often you get your headaches. If they tend to come and go throughout the day, notice the time of day they usually occur and what you are doing when they start. Take note of any dizziness, nausea or vomiting and how much medication you take to help relieve them.
2. Take note of how you feel when you are lying in bed. Do you find that your headache worsens or improves over night? The sign of a good pillow is that your neck-related headache improves when you lye down and often is gone by the morning. If you are not comfortable while lying down, or if your headache worsens/doesn’t resolve over night, bring your pillow in with you to your physio treatment. Your physio will assess your sleeping position and give you tips to align your neck in a better position.
3. It is important to understand that not all headaches are neck-related headaches. Typically, a headache that stems from the neck can be caused or aggravated with poor posture or activities that involve excessive neck, shoulder or arm use. Normally, neck-related headaches build in intensity over time (eg as you sit at your computer, you feel your headache worsening). If your headache suddenly or rapidly worsens, or if you are ill, with or without fever, promptly see your GP for an assessment. If your GP determines that your headache stems from your neck, they can refer you back for physio.
How long will it take to get better?
Physio can be very effective in treating headaches and usually takes between 1 – 6weeks of treatment. The length of time depends on how long you have had your headache for. An acute headache can sometimes be resolved with physio after 1 treatment, with a follow up treatment to ensure that it has competely gone. A chronic headache can take longer (weeks) as there will be exercises and posture correction that will need to be addressed in order to keep your headache away for good. Pilates may also be recommended.
There are many different types of headaches with many different causes. Our physios have been trained in headache relief treatment and are highly skilled at assessing the type and cause of your headache. They will give you advice and treatment and can often give you relief during your first treatment session.