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Published Friday, 15th July 2016

How to Manage Headaches from a Physio in Gladstone’s Perspective

It is estimated that 90% of adults experience headaches at some stage of their life.  With over 270 different categories of headache recognised (and counting), the management of headaches can be daunting from a healthcare point of view.

Each Headache is unique.  What works to resolve one person’s headache may not work on another, even though the symptoms appear more or less identical.  There are many factors that can contribute to a headache or migraine, ranging from stress, trauma, muscle tightness, joint stiffness, jaw dysfunction, hormonal changes, degenerative changes, significant life changing events, or sinister pathology.

From a physiotherapy perspective, careful history taking and physical examination is vital in helping to determine whether and to what extent physiotherapy treatment may be helpful. With so many factors at play, a holistic approach to management needs to be adopted.

The goals of physiotherapy treatment are generally to reduce stress on the musculoskeletal system. Utilisation of soft tissue techniques, joint mobilisation and specific strength training should be done in conjunction with education and activity modification to optimise the chance of good long term results.

With such variability in patient symptoms, it is important to keep track of the progress of your treatment to ensure it’s ongoing efficacy.   A useful strategy to achieve this is by keeping a log looking at key properties of the headache including;

  1. The Location of your pain; left or right side or both
  2. The Frequency of the headache; week, month and  year
  3. The Duration of your headache: how long does each headache last for
  4. The Intensity of your pain: a map of how severe your pain is through the various stages of your headache

By performing thorough history taking, employing treatment strategies based on sound clinical reasoning and regularly monitoring treatment outcomes, managing patients in Gladstone with this common ailment need not be a headache.

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