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Managing headaches

Headaches have become so common in our society that we often make light of them, but for the person who suffers from them frequently, this condition can be a real pain. Most ordinary headaches can be managed with over-the-counter drugs, however if someone is having frequent attacks, he/she may do well to have a physiotherapy assessment. This article deals with three modalities that physiotherapy employs, along with exercise, in treating headaches.

Massage is one of the oldest methods of dealing with disease, and today it is used by physiotherapists to treat a number of conditions, including headaches. With deep tissue massage, a therapist improves circulation and breaks up chronic patterns of muscle tension which give rise to tension headaches. Massage therapy also promotes relaxation, thereby getting rid of poor sleeping habits, another contributor to headaches.

Myofascial release is a form of bodywork that uses special techniques to stretch the fascia - the connective tissue that covers muscles and organs - with the goal of eliminating pain and reorganising the body. During this procedure, traction is applied to the fascia, resulting in increased blood flow which helps to remove trigger points -knots in the muscle - another key factor in headaches.

Biofeedback is another tool that has been used successfully with migraine headaches. The person is taught to control muscle tension, pain and other bodily functions with the help of sensors placed on the body. Immediate feedback is given by the monitors, allowing the person to see what causes their symptoms and therefore determine what triggers his/her headache. Along with biofeedback, the patient is also taught relaxation exercises and the use of mental imagery to control pain.

Tension headaches may stem from stress which may be brought on by a person's physical condition or lack of exercise. Along with the procedures mentioned above, your therapist will design a program of exercise and fitness to suit your age, health status and lifestyle. Exercise has been found beneficial for relieving headaches, improving a person's mental outlook and general health, however exercise may trigger migraines in some people, hence the reason it should be done under proper supervision.


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