What Is A Headache?
Headaches are one of the most common afflictions, with more than 90% of adults experiencing headaches at some point in their life. There are many different presentations of headaches, including:
Debilitating migraines with nausea and vomiting
Stress related headaches.
As of 2011, there are over 270 recognised categories of headaches and counting!
What Causes Headaches?
Each Headache is unique. What works to resolve one person’s headache may not work on another, even though the symptoms are identical. There are many factors that cause a headache or migraine, ranging from:
Significant life changing events or pathology.
How can The Headache, Neck & Jaw Clinic help me with Headaches?
At the Headache Neck & Jaw Clinic, our skilled clinicians will identify exactly what is causing your headache. The pain you actually feel in your face, eyes, jaw or temple (to name a few spots) is the site of the pain, and more often than not, the source of the pain lies elsewhere.
Based on information gained from our detailed examination, our physiotherapists will illustrate clearly to you what individual structures are causing your headache by actively changing the quality of your pain there and then during the treatment.
How Can I Tell If Treatments Are Working?
To understand your individual headache, we analyse in depth four key properties of your headache:
The Location of your pain; left or right side or both
The Frequency of your headache; how many headaches do you get every week, month and year
The Duration of your headache: how long does each headache last for
The Intensity of your pain: a map of how severe your pain is through the various stages of your headache
By measuring the change in these properties, it is possible for you to track the progress of your treatment. i.e. improvement is noted if you used to have a 7 out of 10 headache/migraine that lasts for 48 hours every fortnight, and this fortnight after treatment, you have a 5/10 headache that only lasts 12 hours.
Had Treatment Elsewhere And It Didn’t Work?
One major obstacle chronic headache sufferers have is the lack of faith that they will ever be able to change their headache. Most headache sufferers have sought help from their GP, chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, crystal healers etc. and haven’t had any ongoing success (not even considering the amount of money spent). All of these professions (except one) have good skills to clear simple muscular headaches and if you had a simple muscular headache, it would have worked for you too.
The problem is, once your headache moves from a simple muscular headache to a chronic headache, the Central Nervous System (CNS) becomes involved, meaning your nerves are now continually sending the wrong messages to your brain, and pain becomes your default setting. This is called Central Sensitisation. We now need to take a different approach to your treatment and change the way your brain (brainstem to be technically correct) interprets the information it’s receiving. That’s the difference between The Headache, Neck & Jaw Clinic, and generalist physiotherapy. Learn more about headaches and Central Sensitisation.
Get A Headache Every Cycle?
"My headache is hormonal. I get a headache every cycle, you can’t change that...". You’re right, it is hormonal. But your sister or workmates or plenty of other women go through exactly the same hormonal changes every month and don’t get headaches. Dilation of the blood vessels is the likely trigger, and for whatever the reason your Central Nervous System (CNS) is sensitised, the normal 4% change in diameter of these vessels is perceived as a noxious stimulus and a headache is triggered.
Treating the cause and desensitising the CNS will change the source of the headache. Blood vessels will still dilate as a response to hormonal changes, but the response won’t trip the threshold and trigger a headache.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
It is impossible to know how much treatment is required. Most people will report a change in symptoms after the first treatment and our physiotherapists expect to see a change in the frequency, intensity and duration pattern after 3 or 4 treatments. If there is no change after 4 treatments, we reassess the value of our intervention.