Tips to Avoid Headaches

If you’ve ever suffered from headache pain, you know just how debilitating it can be. You simply can’t look, feel or perform your best if you have a headache.

Nad is skilled and trained in assessing and treating your headache. He regularly helps patients with tension and headaches arising from the neck and in most cases you will get some relief from the first visit. Cervicogenic or neck headaches can originate from a number of structures in your neck, including your upper neck joints, neck muscles and your nerves. They are sometimes mistaken for migraines because they can give pain in a similar area.

Some of the causes for these headaches include:

 

  • Poor posture
  • Stiffness of the joints in the neck and upper back
  • Muscle imbalances (muscle tightness and/or muscle weakness)
  • Previous neck trauma (e.g. whiplash, sports injury, concussion)

Three signs it might be a neck headache

  1. The pain radiates from back to front and is usually one-sided.
    • Many people have a sense that their headache is ‘coming from their neck’
    • You may feel the pain is coming from the back of the head, or you may be able to reproduce your headache when you put pressure on the base of your skull
  2. Your neck feels restricted or your pain is altered by neck movements/positions.
    • you may have noticed a mild loss of movement in your neck (like turning your head to one side e.g. when driving to reverse the car)
    • your headache may be provoked by a certain neck movement (eg. shaving or combing your hair) or a sustained position (eg. stomach sleeping)
  3. Physiotherapy treatment of your neck alters or improves your headaches almost immediately if your neck is even partly responsible for your headache. It will usually give immediate relief, however even an initial aggravation of the headache can be a positive sign that the headache is neck-related.

Tips to avoid headaches:

  1. Avoid foods that trigger headaches
  2. Avoid common allergens
  3. Avoid common allergens
  4. Stay hydrated
  5. Moderate alcohol intake
  6. Minimize chemicals in your food by eating whole, organic plant foods and avoiding processed foods
  7.  Get regular exercise
  8. Engage in regular stress reduction activities such as meditation
  9. Avoid caffeine or just reduce your intake and follow your latte with a big gulp of water
  10. Don’t smoke
  11. Eat foods with Omega-3 fatty acids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect
  12. Avoid using chemical-based cleaning products and air fresheners around your house
  13. Learn your headache triggers
  14. Maintain your neck mobility with regular treatment from your physiotherapist

Treatment for Cervicogenic headaches involves

Manual therapy and exercise (specific and individualised)

  • Joint mobilisations
  • Stretching tight muscles
  • Strengthening weak muscles
  • Posture Correction strategies
  • Massage and trigger point release

Modalities

  • heat can often be used in conjunction with manual techniques
  • Dry needling to release trigger points and release endorphins
  • Using a CranioCradle to release tight muscles (especially the base of the skull)

There are many types of headaches with a great variety of causes. Finding out your type of headache will help you find the best possible treatment for it. 

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Camberwell Physiotherapist Nad Perera, founders, Alive Physio

Nad Perera

Chronic pain expert, Manual therapist and blogger

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