By Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson

Do you suffer from Headaches?

Headaches are a common condition for many people, with 1 in 4 adults suffering from Headaches daily.

Headaches and head pain are extremely common complaints and can effect each person differently. Tension-type headaches are the most commonly experienced headache with 3 out of every 4 adults having encountered them. They will often feel like pressure, tension or throbbing on one or both sides of the head. While some people will only experience a headache very rarely, up to 1 of every 20 adults suffer a headache every or nearly every day!

Stress, anxiety, emotional upset, fatigue, eye strain, hormonal imbalance and dehydration are some common causes of headaches. They can also often be associated with neck pain and shoulder pain.

What are the common causes of Headaches?

The common causes and types of Headaches include:

  • Classic Migraine (with aura)
  • Common Migraine (without aura)
  • Cervicogenic
  • Cluster
  • Tension-type
  • Temporal Arteritis
  • Sinus
Source: The fit global

What are the common structures which contribute to Headaches?

Headaches can be caused by a variety of structures such as joints, tendons, blood vessels, nerves and hormones.

The common structures which contribute to headaches and migraines include, but are not limited to:

  • Joint
  • Muscle
  • Tendon
  • Nerve
  • Blood Vessel
  • Hormones

What can I do to help myself with my Headaches?

If you are suffering from headaches regularly, keeping a diary may be useful for holding information which could be used by a health practitioner to diagnose your headache type and triggers. This can be used to note how often, how intense, how long and your potential triggers (food, fatigue, medication, stress, poor posture, alcohol, hormones, etc).

You should also attempt to identify and avoid your triggers. If you know a certain type of food/medication/alcohol, a period of stress, lack of sleep or skipping meals are triggers for you, attempt to avoid these factors. Certain lifestyle changes can help to reduce the frequency of our head pain or solve them all together.

It is also important to stay hydrated throughout the day. 2-3 litres of water is the recommended intake for an adult in a day. You may find it helpful to to set reminders on your phone or buy a drink bottle which is convenient to take to all of your daily activities.

A factor which can have a huge impact on headache is stress, and the management of this stress can be useful in the management of your symptoms. This may mean utilising regular exercise, altering your lifestyle and/or practising mindfulness or mediation.

When should I seek professional help for my Headaches?

You should book an appointment with a health professional, such as an Osteopath, Chiropractor or Physiotherapist, if you are experiencing the following symptoms associated with your headaches:

  • Progressively increasing pain levels
  • Impacting daily activity performance
  • Prolonged concentration or mood disturbance
  • Prolonged visual disturbance
  • Prolonged nausea
  • Dizziness

What will a health practitioner do to help with my Headaches?

Health professionals aim to provide more than just symptomatic relief of pain and stiffness with hands-on techniques.

In your first appointment, your health practitioner will ask you a series of questions related to your headaches and general health to try and identify potential causes, triggers and patterns of your symptoms. This will be complimented by an assessment of your neck and back range of motion and associated muscles, as the neck has a strong relationship with the head and headaches.

In some cases, restrictions in the neck and associated muscles can cause head pain. In these instances, hands-on therapy can be very beneficial. Techniques will be applied to improve range of motion in the neck/back, decompress the neck region and to decrease muscle tension in overly tight muscles.

Education will be provided in your appointment on how to best avoid your triggers and how to react when one does come on. Exercises and stretches may be prescribed for you to assist in the minimisation of your symptoms.

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