Diagnosing Headache, Physiotherapy and how Acupuncture can help

Headache, Physiotherapy and Acupuncture

For many people headaches can be extremely disruptive to daily life and stop them from being able to do basic daily tasks, concentrate properly or carry out work duties.  Migraine is the most common type of headache with a lifetime risk of 43 per cent in women and 18 per cent in men, affecting those mainly of working age. Typically, it presents as a throbbing pain on one side of the head and is associated with nausea and increased sensitivity to light or sound.  Migraine can be present with or without symptoms of aura, which are visual, sensory or motor changes.  Of those with migraine 1-2% can develop persistent symptoms which do not go away.

Migraine is the most common diagnosis of a patient with an intermittent and persistent headache without neurological symptoms.  Tension type headache is another very common type of primary headache which presents as a milder headache affecting both sides of the head, generally without throbbing and migrainous features.

Cervicogenic headache is another common cause of headache, classed as a secondary cause.  With cervicogenic headache symptoms are generally present with neck pain, and symptoms provoked with movement of the neck would help to confirm this.

Headache symptoms can also be triggered by changes with the body’s hormones, for example with onset of menstruation in women.  Medication overuse is another cause of headache. Persistent long term use of analgesia for pain can cause this, and is called a medication overuse headache.

Physiotherapy and acupuncture treatment in Hitchin

Physical treatment is not always the first thing to consider, as accurate diagnosis must identify the headache type and if physiotherapy can help.  The British Association for the Study of Headache (BASH) guidelines assist with this and should always be referred to aid diagnosis.

There is evidence that physiotherapy and acupuncture can be beneficial for the treatment of tension headaches, cervicogenic headache and migraine.  Treatments such as spinal mobilisation, manipulation and massage can all help to relieve symptoms.  Acupuncture is a modality which can be very effective for reduction of pain related to these types of headache.  Acupuncture is now a treatment option recommended through the national institute of clinical excellence (NICE) for migraine and tension type headache.

If you experience headaches and would like to discuss if physiotherapy could help, contact Anthony on 01462 431033 at Physio Three Sixty in Hitchin for a consultation, or book an appointment online.

Anthony Cahill, BSc, MSc, MCSP, MAACP
Specialist MSK Physiotherapist

Physiotherapy in Hitchin at Xchnage Fitness


Specialist Physiotherapy and Sports injury management


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