Headaches are one of the most common conditions seen by physiotherapists today. 90% of people have experienced a headache at some point in their lives. The most common type of headache is a tension-type headache followed by cervicogenic headache (arising from the neck) and migraines. Your jaw is also another region that can contribute to a headache. For example, in people who chronically clench their teeth or tooth grind. Studies have shown that 80% of young adults grind their teeth during the deeper stages of their sleep. People with jaw related headaches may also present with pain in the teeth and jaw region and have a fullness feeling in the ear.
A cervicogenic headache starts at the base of the skull to up and around the eye, either on one or both sides of the head. Whereas a tension type headache presents on both sides along with a tight/ pressure feeling around the head. Migraines tend to initiate in the forehead and have a pulsating quality.
The good news is physiotherapy can play an integral role in the treatment and management of all of the above. It is up to the therapist to assess and identify the type of headache and the extent the musculo-skeletal system is contributing to it. Along with some hands-on therapy, a specific exercise program will assist the rehabilitation process and also prevent reoccurrence of headaches. Tips and advise will also be provided regarding aspects such as posture, ergonomics and involvement of other medical professions such as a dentist where applicable.