Any pain that occurs in any part of the head is called a headache. There are many types of headaches, and their causes are also many. The International Headache Society describes several different categories of headaches:
- Cervicogenic (also called muscle spasm headaches).
- Migraine and cluster.
- Cranial neuralgia, facial pain, and other headaches.
- Secondary headaches are caused by an underlying disease such as fever, infectious disease, sinus disorder, a tumour, or more severe disease.
- Headaches are common in people with known neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, concussion, or spinal cord injury.
- People with known neurological conditions should notify their doctor if they experience headaches.
Most headaches are harmless and resolve on their own. However, severe headaches that recur frequently can affect your ability to carry out your daily activities and can reduce your quality of life.
There are effective treatments for almost every type of headache. The challenge is determining the type of headache and its cause and creating an appropriate treatment plan to reduce its frequency and intensity. Physical therapists can help determine the type of headache and are experts in managing pain from various sources.
Physical therapists are movement specialists who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact the physiotherapist directly for an assessment.
Headaches may have various causes and are difficult to diagnose and treat. Many headaches are unexplained. However, there is considerable evidence that the structure of the neck aids a significant proportion of headaches. There is also evidence that physical therapy can help with this type of headache. For many people, headaches start as pain or tension at the top of the neck. As the pain worsens, it may spread to the back of the head, temples, forehead, or behind the eyes. Moving the neck or bending forward for a long time makes it worse. Headache happens because the nerves in your upper neck are connected to your head and face. Disorders in the joints or muscles above the neck can cause pain in your head. Physiotherapy is one of the effective methods in the treatment of neck headaches.
Can Physiotherapy Help Your Headaches?
An experienced physical therapist can determine if your neck is causing or contributing to your headaches.
The most common physiotherapy solutions in the treatment of headache
- Mobility of your neck joints and muscles
- Manipulation of the cervical spine and surrounding soft tissues
- Functional exercises and rehabilitation
- Situation assessment, correction, and advice
Physiotherapy for Dizziness
Dizziness is a common problem among people. It is estimated that at least five percent of people experience vertigo at some point in their lives. There are many causes of vertigo, and various treatment options include medical management (e.g. medication), vertigo physiotherapy, and psychological intervention.
Your doctor can help determine the right specialist to treat your specific needs.
What Is the Difference between lightheadedness and Dizziness?
Lightheadedness and Dizziness have similar symptoms but with some specific differences. Dizziness is a general term that describes feelings such as lightheadedness, confusion, and unsteadiness. Vertigo is more easily explained and involves the sensation that the room or environment around your head is spinning. Vertigo affects the inner ear (vestibular), and there are various reasons for feeling dizzy and lightheaded.
These include inner ear (vestibular) disorders, reduced blood flow to the brain (Vascular), neck (Cervicogenic) problems, psychological problems, and mild brain damage (Stroke).
Cervical Headache Symptoms
- Headache with neck pain
- Headaches are caused by moving the neck or staying in one position for a long time, such as at the computer.
- A headache that continually gets worse on the same side of your head
- Headache is reduced by pressure on the base of the skull.
- Headaches that persist after being checked by a doctor for other causes
Physiotherapy for Dizziness and lightheadedness
Vestibular (vestibular) physiotherapy can be a perfect option for treating lightheadedness and vertigo, mainly if these symptoms are triggered or aggravated by body movement.
Lightheadedness that worsens with body movement is often caused by a disorder of the inner ear (vestibular) system. Research has shown vestibular physiotherapy to be very effective in treating vestibular conditions, such as benign paroxysmal localized vertigo (BPPV), viral infections of the inner ear (vestibular nerve), and vestibular migraine (a type of migraine that causes lightheadedness and dizziness and may accompany by headache or not).
Exceptionally skilled in vestibular rehabilitation, your physical therapist will perform a comprehensive assessment of your lightheadedness and dizziness and, in many cases, can determine the cause of your symptoms.
If there is no cause for the symptoms, the physiotherapist will refer you to a medical specialist who can perform more extensive tests.
Vertigo Physiotherapy or Vestibular Physiotherapy for Headache
- includes the following:
- Habituation exercises include specific movements designed to stimulate lightheadedness symptoms to make the vestibular system more sensitive to those movements and reduce symptoms.
- Eye and head coordination exercises: These exercises are designed to improve concentration and reduce symptoms of lightheadedness.
- Balance and gait exercises involve challenging the vestibular balance system to strengthen it and are designed to improve balance and confidence while walking.
- Repositioning techniques: These techniques are used for a specific inner ear (vestibular) condition known as benign paroxysmal localized vertigo (BPPV).
This condition causes the symptoms of vertigo to change when you change position, such as lying down or turning over in bed.
Techniques such as the Epley maneuver can successfully treat BPPV but must be performed by a physical therapist with exceptional skills in vestibular rehabilitation.
Is Physiotherapy Effective for Vertigo?
Over the past 25 years, many studies have been conducted that provide evidence of the effectiveness of vestibular physiotherapy in successfully treating lightheadedness and vertigo sufferers.
These studies have shown a reduction in lightheadedness and dizziness, better performance, increased balance, and reduced risk of falls following vestibular physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy for vertigo can be done as a home exercise program three times a day or under the supervision of a doctor.
How long Will it Take to Recover?
Vestibular physiotherapy for treating lightheadedness and vertigo can be very successful, but it is difficult to determine the duration of treatment.
Most people need 3-4 weeks of vestibular exercises in a safe environment before any significant improvement is seen. Diminished lightheadedness and improved balance generally occur within 4-6 weeks.
Technical treatments are also very effective for complications such as BPPV. If these techniques are performed by physiotherapists with particular skills in vertigo physiotherapy in Richmond Hill, only 1-3 treatments are required.