Headaches and migraines are a common problem for many people, and can be incredibly debilitating during daily activity. Whether you experience a dull throbbing pain after activity or frequent, intense migraines with aurors, the pain can stop you from enjoying the things that are meaningful to you and significantly affect your daily life and relationships.
Managing headaches and migraines can be a difficult task. Sometimes lifestyle changes and medications can be beneficial to you if headaches are a significant problem for you; however it is possible that the underlying cause of your headache has not been fully investigated if your neck has not been assessed. The upper cervical spine and surrounding soft tissue can contribute to headpain and migraines, and there is scientific evidence supporting manual therapy in the treatment of migraines. If you have persistent headaches that are not responding to or responding poorly to medication or other treatments, and your cervical spine has not been formally assessed – we may be able to help.
Most of the time, headaches are not the sign of anything major being wrong, and aside from their discomfort are not something that you need to be worried about. However, it is important that if you have suddenly developed a new type of headache or a change in your symptoms that you seek a prompt medical assessment. At physioconnect you will be asked a series of screening questions and undergo a thorough physical assessment to ensure that in the unlikely event that there are any concerns about the nature of your headache, you can be swiftly referred on to an appropriate professional who can continue your care in the most appropriate manner.
At PhysioConnect we combine evidence based headache and migraine treatment modalities and general physiotherapy practice. Your therapist will be trained in the Watson Headache Technique, an evidence based approach developed by Dr Dean Watson which involves specific retraction exercises and manual therapy performed to the upper cervical spine. In addition to this, your headache symptoms will be assessed in the context of your lifestyle and goals, meaning that you will also receive a rehabilitation programme and complementary therapy that supports you as an individual in addition to just treating the headache. If there are lifestyle changes, advice, additional exercises or other manual techniques that may be of benefit these will be offered to you as part of the sessions.
What Should I Expect at my Initial Assessment?
Your first consultation will be very similar to general physiotherapy or medical assessment. Your therapist will ask you some specific questions about your headaches in addition to enquiring about your medical history and red flags. It is useful if you can make a note prior to the session of what symptoms you get, where you get them, how long they last for, and any triggers or easing factors. Following this, your therapist will conduct a physical assessment of your neck looking at your range of movement, posture and other objective markers, before palpating your cervical spine. Your therapist will proceed in a structured fashion to make sure that you receive the best possible treatment. None of the assessment should be painful and if any part of the assessment has the potential to cause pain or discomfort the therapist will discuss this with you prior to progressing, and if you do not have to proceed if you are uncomfortable with this. Despite this, your therapist may provoke symptoms of your headache during the session, however this is often a good sign! If your headache is provoked during the assessment of your cervical spine, this often indicates that your headache originates from your neck, and therefore it is something that can be treated by and should respond to physiotherapy.
When Will I Start to Feel Better?
This depends on the frequency, severity and irritability of your symptoms, in addition to how long you have suffered from headaches. If you experience headaches daily, you may notice a change within the first few days. Your therapist will discuss the expected changes and timeframes at your initial consultation and complete a treatment plan with you to ensure that you are aware of what to expect from your first session. A general rule is that you should experience a positive benefit from treatment within 3-6 sessions, however the frequency of sessions will be dictated by your symptoms and individual treatment plan. At each appointment your therapist will discuss your progress and expectations in relation to your goals so that you understand the reasoning behind the treatment and can share your experience of the treatment.
How Can I Book an Assessment?
To book an appointment you can call us on 0800 111 788, alternatively email Alex@physioconnect.co.nz