How to get ahead of headaches

Did you know that physiotherapy can help with headaches? Many of the partner clinics of PhysioNet Bristol have expert physiotherapists who can help if you’re experiencing headaches from tightness and tension around your neck. Louise from Bradley Stoke Physio and Health explains the positive benefits of seeking help for your headaches.

What causes headaches?

There are lots of types but the most common are tension type headaches. These can be stress or anxiety related, but often no one knows what causes them. The first course of action for most people is analgesic medication such as paracetamol. Occasional headaches can be managed in this way but if the pain becomes more persistent then further treatment may be appropriate. Indeed, it has been shown that frequent use of analgesics and anti- inflammatories can cause…headaches!

Headaches can sometimes come about as a secondary problem from tight muscles and tendons around the neck. These are secondary headaches and are called cervicogenic headaches.

Both types of headaches can be helped by physiotherapy techniques – indeed the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines recommend these as treatments.

When to seek your doctor’s advice

If your headache comes on quickly and is accompanied by a fever, nausea or vomiting, or
if you become confused, have slurred speech, or weakness or numbness then seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Tips for staying headache free

To find out what causes your headaches, a good place to start is to write a pain diary. This can help you pinpoint the cause of the symptoms and help you start to manage them.

Of common tension type headaches, we know the causes can be stress, squinting, poor posture, tiredness, dehydration and irregular meals. In this case, there are a few key things
you can already do to help you prevent and manage them:

  • Get an eye test
  • Remember your posture – sit up
  • Sleep well
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat regularly
When a physiotherapist can help

Physiotherapists can reduce the severity and the frequency of our headaches. They can use massage, acupuncture, joint mobilisations and even mindfulness exercises such as Pilates and Yoga to treat your headaches. You can also benefit from exercise treatment plans and advice on self-managing your pain.