Do You Suffer From Frequent Headaches? Physiotherapy Can Help

Headaches

Do You Suffer From Frequent Headaches? Physiotherapy Can Help

Physiotherapy Can Help You Head Away From Chronic Headaches

The term “sick headache” might have been coined to describe exactly how you feel today — and every day. A one-off headache encounter can be distressing enough, but frequent or constant headache pain can completely disable you. Many of these headaches have underlying musculoskeletal or biochemical causes — which means that they can be corrected through the right forms of treatment. In many cases, physiotherapy turns out to be just what the doctor ordered for chronic headaches.

Anatomy of a Headache: Understanding the Underlying Causes

What is a headache, beyond the simple definition of a pain in the head? There are actually several categories of headaches, each with its own distinct causes and symptoms.

For most sufferers, chronic headaches mean tension headaches. A tension headache can be triggered or aggravated by emotional tension, but the actual mechanism involves physical tension in the muscles of the neck. Tight or strained neck muscles can go into spasm. When spasms overtake certain tiny muscles near the base of the skull, the resulting tugging action irritates a membrane called the dura mater. The dura mater then responds by flooding your head with a vaguely pounding or aching sensation.

Weak or underdeveloped neck muscles may be naturally vulnerable to tightness and spasms. Accident injuries (including whiplash) can push the skull off-center in relation to the neck, subjecting the neck muscles to abnormal stresses. (A headache that specifically involves the upper cervical spine is termed a cervinogenic headache.) Even routine postural problems can cause neck strain and tension headaches. For instance, if you stare down at your smartphone for hours each day, you can develop a painful problem known as “text neck” which also promotes headaches.

Other kinds of headaches, while less common, can prove even more debilitating. Cluster headaches are a prime example. These intense headaches strike one side of your face in clusters of attacks. These headaches have been associated with cervical spinal abnormalities.

Migraines are even more notorious for causing nausea, light/sound sensitivity, faintness and vision problems on top of brutal headaches. Migraines sometimes occur as a complication of concussions; they are also triggered by exposure to specific stimuli such as lights, sounds, or foods.

How Our Physiotherapist Can Reduce Your Discomfort

Our physiotherapist can help you get to the bottom of your headache problem. If your headache is cervinogenic in nature, we may need to work on your neck. For instance:

  • Exercises that strengthen and loosen your neck muscles can help to ease the stresses that set off your headaches.
  • Chiropractic adjustment can correct skeletal misalignment issues that place your neck muscles under unnatural strain. These adjustments can also help to reduce cluster headache attacks.
  • Laser therapy and massage therapy can both relax tight neck tissues and speed recovery to injured muscles.
  • Corrective exercises and postural/ergonomic changes can help you steer clear of “text neck” and other occupational headache triggers.
  • If your migraines are the result of a recent concussion, a carefully-administered course of physiotherapy can actually help you recuperate from that concussion more quickly.
  • Our physiotherapist can help you identify other migraine triggers and suggest strategies for avoiding them in your everyday life.

Ready to Overcome Headache Pain? Give Physiotherapy a Try

You’re not doomed to go through life plagued by frequent headaches. If you’re ready to free yourself from this burden, give physiotherapy a try. Contact our physiotherapists today to learn more about our headache treatment options!

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Frustrated by your chronic joint pain? See how physiotherapy can help relieve arthritis pain

The latest study revealed an estimated 54.4 million US adults have diagnosed arthritis—about 1 in 4 Americans. Of those, about 27% report experiencing severe joint and arthritis pain.

 

Types of Arthritis

 

There are many types of arthritis, but osteoarthritis is the most common type. The cushioning surface on the bones wears away, and bone rubs against bone. The joints can lose strength, and joint pain is often chronic. With inflammatory arthritis, the immune system goes awry. It attacks the joints with inflammation. This can cause joint erosion and joint pain. Infectious arthritis occurs when a virus or bacteria enters the joint. Even though antibiotics may end the infection, arthritis can become chronic. Metabolic arthritis is due to too much uric acid in the body. It can build up and cause chronic joint pain.

 

Physiotherapy for Arthritis

 

Physiotherapy focuses on improving mobility for those with arthritis. It also restores the use of affected joints, reduces pain and strengthens muscles to support the joints. A physiotherapist will create an individualized treatment plan to improve flexibility, coordination and strength for maximum physical function.

 

Specifically, a physiotherapist will use exercise and manual therapy to treat arthritis. Strengthening exercises and weight-bearing exercises are implemented to improve joint lubrication. This helps reduce the pain associated with arthritis. A physiotherapist will develop a treatment plan that targets all areas of the body affecting the pain. For example, if you suffer from knee pain, the exercise regimen will include proper knee mechanics and the lower back, ankle and hip. Physiotherapists also use various manual therapy techniques like joint and soft tissue mobilization to treat the symptoms of arthritis.

 

Joint mobilization entails the moving of a joint through working with a natural level of resistance. This technique helps stretch and strengthen the tissue surrounding bone and reduces pain and increases range of motion. Other passive modalities that a physiotherapist may use to treat pain from arthritis include ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), cryotherapy or heat. TENS utilizes electrodes to trick the pain from feeling pain. Ultrasound utilizes heat to help the deep tissues of joints. It helps reduce inflammation and pain. Cryotherapy reduces inflammation and swelling. All around, physiotherapy is a holistic treatment for arthritis.

 

Physiotherapy vs Surgery

 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Trying physiotherapy before opting for surgery may be the better choice. You may be able to spare yourself the expense, pain, and recovery time of surgery, says physiotherapist Karen Weber, clinical supervisor at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Outpatient Centers in Braintree and Quincy, Mass. There is growing evidence supporting that idea. In the past few years, studies have indicated that physiotherapy is just as effective as surgery for relieving pain and restoring function for people with arthritis in their knees or backs.”

 

If you’re suffering from arthritis, it’s wise to consider physiotherapy. Not only is it non-invasive, you may be able to throw away those pain meds. The goal of physiotherapy is to help you live an active, pain-free life. Contact our physiotherapists to find your pain relief today!

Could your back pain be caused by a herniated disc? Here’s what to look for

How do you know whether you have a herniated disc or it’s just good old back pain? One telltale sign can be where the pain is located. With a herniated disc, the pain is typically located in the lumbar spine. That’s the lower part of your backbone. The pain may radiate from the back to the thighs, buttocks or calves. A herniated disc can cause pain whether you’re resting or active. Even a cough or sneeze can cause pain as it puts pressure on pinched nerves.

How to Tell if You Have a Herniated Disc

A good way to determine if you have a herniated disc is to visit your physician. Likely, your doctor will do a physical exam and may even take an x-ray. While an x-ray won’t show a herniated disc, it can help rule other causes of your pain like a fracture. If your doctor recommends having an MRI, this test can show detailed 3-D images of the spinal cord and pinpoint if there is a herniated disc. It also shows which nerves are affected.

The purpose of spinal discs is to act as a shock absorber when you engage in daily activities, like walking, sitting, lifting and running. Each disc has a soft inner ring and a tough outer ring. When the outer ring is injured, the inner ring may protrude out and cause pain. Common causes of a herniated disc include weak muscles, age, being overweight or leading a sedentary lifestyle. And if you turn suddenly, you can also incur a herniated disc.

Physiotherapy and Herniated Disc

A physiotherapist will have you engage in specific exercises to ease the pain and strengthen the muscles associated with a herniated disc. Physiotherapy programs also include ultrasound therapy, deep tissue massage, ice and heat treatment, stretching exercises, electrical muscle stimulation and aerobic exercises. Deep tissue massage uses pressure to relieve spasms and muscle tension due to a herniated disc. Heat therapy helps increase nutrients and oxygen to the affected area for healing. Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Active treatments like exercise for a herniated disc focus on core stability, flexibility and muscle strengthening. Keep in mind that core muscles help support the spine. Learning proper stretching and flexibility techniques will help your body move easier. Muscle strengthening creates a solid support system for the spine and helps relieve pain.

A physiotherapist will also teach your self-care principles and home exercises. This way, you can prevent further injury and enjoy the long-term effects of physiotherapy. With physiotherapy, you’re an active participant in your recovery.

“Herniated discs can be very painful injuries that impact your day-to-day life. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to get surgery to repair your herniated disc. In fact, studies have shown that 90% of patients were able to recover by pursuing non-surgical courses of treatment like physiotherapy.” That percentage is a testament to how effective physiotherapy is in the treatment of a herniated disc.

Contact NRG Physiotherapy today!

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