Physio Podcast Transcript:
Headaches and migraines are common ailments which people report from suffering. At any given time there is roughly 15% of the population taking pain killing medication to suppress headache or migraine pain. Headaches and migraines have become so common that some people believe they are just a part and parcel of everyday life.
The reality is that a healthy person should not suffer headaches or migraines. If you do suffer from headaches or migraines the pain associated with those ailments is blipping red light. A blipping red light telling you that there is something wrong with the balance in your body.
By taking pain killers to relieve the pain from the headache or migraine you are actually just masking this red light. Pain medication does not “cure” your headache or migraine it purely masks the pain. So if you find that you are suffering from frequent headache’s or migraines then you should investigate the root cause beyond just taking pain killing medication.
The problem with headaches and migraines is that the “cure” is often elusive. There are many different types of headaches and migraines and they all present clinically different. The good news is that once you have a correct diagnosis on the cause of the headache or migraine often it can be simply treated.
Being a physiotherapist I spend a lot of time with patients who suffer from constant headache’s and migraines. Many people don’t realize that a physiotherapist can actually help reduce the pain associated with the migraine or headache, diagnose the root cause of the migraine or headache and then treat it.
Let me give you one example.
There’s a medical concept called referred pain. This is where one part of your body is in pain but that pain is caused by a muscle or organ in a separate part of your body. The simplest example of referred pain is where you feel pain on the left side of your chest and up your arm. Often this pain is referred pain associated with your heart.
Headaches or migraines can also be triggered via referred pain. The upper trapezius muscle, which is the muscle on the top of your shoulder is frequently problematic for headache sufferers.
The pain you are feeling as a headache could actually be referred pain from the upper trapezius muscle. It’s been reported that the upper trapezium muscle can refer pain into the neck and temple.
It’s actually believed that 90% of headaches start at the neck, be it through posture, tight muscles, restricted or disturbed nerve supply, impeded blood supply or movement dysfunctions.
So as you can see, as a physiotherapist I can play a big role in the diagnosis, treatment and management of migraines and headaches. It’s important to understand that the trigger for a migraine or headache could be different for each person.
Common triggers include stress, poor posture, accidents, environmental factors and even medications. Yes, I said medications.
Let me relate a significantly important story to you. I have a friend who suffered from debilitating migraines and during the months of January, February and March 2014 she was suffering migraines daily.
Worried about her health she visited a Neurologist who put her on a heavy regime of medication. Some of the side effects of this medication were horrendous. But the headaches and migraines were bad enough that she took the medication.
One of the medications she had was a very strong pain relief that she would take at the onset of a migraine. What she discovered was the pain relief worked wonders at masking the pain.
The problem was though, these pain killers were causing something called rebound headaches. Essentially, each time she took the pain relief, once the pain relief had worn off she would get an even worse pain forcing her to take the pain relief again.
The cycle was vicious and painful. Her condition continued to get worse and worse until she decided to do something different. She finally went to see a physiotherapist who examined her. The physiotherapist suggested that the pain was actually caused by muscle tightness in her neck and upper trapezius muscle.
After a few sessions of work with the physiotherapist and some light strength training for the muscles in that area she started to feel relief. Now, she only infrequently suffers migraines.
She went from having migraines daily to having one every other month. The transformation was amazing and it was possible due to her choice to look for a different solution and stop masking the pain.
Understand, medication in most cases is not the answer for your headache’s and migraines. You must seek to find out the trigger and then work towards treating the trigger so that it no longer is prevalent.
You don’t need to live with pain, especially headache and migraine pain. Solutions are available. I strongly urge you to see a physiotherapist for advice.