Headaches

Headaches can be caused by a wide range of factors. They are very common and experienced by people for various reasons. Here are some of the most common conditions and factors that can affect or cause headaches:

  • Neck tension: Headaches can stem from issues in the neck and are often caused by poor posture, neck injuries, or degenerative conditions in the cervical spine.  Typically, tension or fatigue of the upper neck muscles can cause radiating pain into the head or can irritate nerves which wrap around the head which can feel much the same as headaches.
  • Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormones can trigger headaches in both men and women. Some triggers can include stress, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause.
  • Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, which can trigger headaches.
  • Caffeine Withdrawal: If you’re used to consuming a lot of caffeine and suddenly stop, you might experience headaches as a withdrawal symptom.
  • Eye Strain: Prolonged use of digital devices or reading in poor lighting conditions can strain the eyes and lead to tension headaches.
  • Sleep Disorders: Sleep deprivation, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders can contribute to headaches.
  • Brain Tumors or Structural Issues: While rare, certain brain tumors or other structural issues within the brain can cause chronic headaches.

Headaches can vary in their symptoms based on the type of headache you are suffering with or the underlying cause. Here are some common symptoms associated with different types of headaches:

  • Tension-Type Headaches: Mild to moderate dull, aching pain on both sides of the head or at the temples.  Feeling of pressure or tightness around the head or neck.  Not accompanied with nausea or vomiting.  Some sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Migraines: Severe throbbing, pulsating or pressure-type pain, often on one side of the head which can be associated with nausea and vomiting.  Sensitivity to light is common and can be associated with visual disturbance around the time of the headache.  Migraine sufferers are often left feeling fatigued and irritable following.
  • Cluster Headaches:  So called as episodes cluster around a period of weeks or months with longer spells of relapse without pain.  Pain is intense and often centred around one eye.  Can cause red or teary eyes, nasal congestion and facial sweating on the same side as the pain.
  • Sinus Headaches: Pain and pressure in the forehead, cheeks, and around the eyes often accompanying a sinus infection.  Pain worsens with bending forward.
  • Cervicogenic Headaches: Pain that originates in the neck and radiates to the head.  Often one-sided but not always.  Can radiate around the side of the head and around the eyes.

Headaches can be caused by a variety of factors, and the underlying cause often depends on the type of headache you’re experiencing. Here are some common causes of headaches:

  • Tension and overloaded muscles: A large proportion of headaches result from muscle tension in the upper neck and base of the head.  Stress, anxiety, or too much time spent in one position can contribute to these types of headaches.
  • Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, which can trigger headaches.
  • Triggers: Migraine and some other types of headaches can be triggered by various factors, including certain foods (e.g., caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, aged cheeses), hormonal changes, sensory stimuli (bright lights, strong odors, loud noises), weather changes, and changes in sleep patterns.
  • Sinus Congestion and Infections: Sinus headaches can be caused by congestion or inflammation of the sinuses due to allergies, infections, or other irritants.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, particularly in women, can trigger headaches. This can occur during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause.
  • Infections and Illnesses: Headaches can be a symptom of various infections and illnesses, including colds, flus, and sinus infections.
  • Injuries: Head injuries, including concussions, can result in headaches as part of the body’s response to trauma.

The best treatment for headaches depends on the type of headache you’re experiencing, its underlying cause, and your individual circumstances. Here are some general approaches and treatments that can be effective for different types of headaches.

Over the counter medication is often highly effective at dealing with the symptoms of many types of headaches.  However these should be taken under the guidance of a pharmacist or a GP.  In some cases such as migraines or cluster headaches, stronger or more tailored medicative approaches (including triptans, codeine or calcium channel blockers) may be beneficial and should be administered by a GP.

For tension or cervicogenic headaches, a tailored approach to calming down and increasing the resilience of the muscles of the neck and base of the head is often effective.  This helps deal with the symptoms as well as the underlying cause of the headache.  An experienced physiotherapist will work closely with you to form an accurate diagnosis for your pain and build an individualised treatment plan for you which may include manual therapy such as massage and manipulation and tailored exercise to improve the conditioning and robustness of the neck.

If you’re experiencing headaches and are seeking guidance, there are several healthcare professionals you can talk to, depending on the severity and frequency of your headaches:

  • Primary Care Physician (PCP): Your primary care doctor is a good starting point for  discussing your headaches. They can evaluate your symptoms, medical history, and perform a physical examination to determine the likely cause of your headaches. They might provide treatment recommendations, prescribe medications, or refer you to a specialist if necessary.
  • Physical Therapist: If your headaches are related to muscle tension, poor posture, or neck issues, a physical therapist can provide exercises, stretches, and techniques to help improve these underlying problems.
  • Neurologist: Neurologists specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the nervous system, including headaches. If your headaches are severe, frequent, or complex in nature, a neurologist can provide a more specialized evaluation and recommend appropriate treatments.
  • Emergency Medical Care: If you experience sudden, severe headaches, especially if they are accompanied by neurological symptoms such as confusion, weakness, visual disturbances, or difficulty speaking, you should seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Yes, exercise can be beneficial for managing headaches in many cases. Regular physical activity has been shown to have positive effects on overall health, stress reduction, and the prevention of certain types of headaches. Regular exercise promotes better sleep quality and helps manage stress, both of which can contribute to a reduced risk of various types of headaches.  Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise can have positive effects on preventing obesity-related headaches.

However, it’s important to approach exercise carefully and take individual factors into consideration.

  • Tension-Type Headaches:
    • Gentle exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga can help relieve muscle tension and improve posture, which are common contributors to tension-type headaches.
    • Engaging in regular physical activity can also reduce stress and anxiety, which are known triggers for tension headaches.
  • Migraine Headaches:
    • While intense or sudden exercise might trigger migraines in some individuals, regular, moderate-intensity exercise can have migraine-preventive effects for many people.
    • Aerobic exercises like brisk walking, cycling, and swimming have been shown to help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
  • Cluster Headaches:
    • During a cluster headache episode, vigorous physical activity might trigger or worsen the pain. It’s generally advisable to avoid intense exercise during an active cluster episode.
    • However, staying physically active during remission periods can help improve your overall well-being.

Chews Health Top Tip for Headaches

Headaches can be stressful and often debilitating in severe cases, but it’s important not to worry as the vast majority of headaches are not caused by serious or sinister problems.  The best cause of treatment is always a personal one.  Understanding your triggers and maintaining as healthy of a lifestyle as you can can will go a long way to helping to stem the severity of your headaches and reduce the frequency of your headaches.

However, if you develop other symptoms including dizziness, slurred speech, visual disruption, facial numbness, tingling or pain or symptoms such as weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms, it is important to seek further medical advice. 

Our Specialists

Melanie Clarke
Melanie Clarke
2023-02-22
We’ll be forever grateful to Chews, the guys are the absolute BEST IN CLASS when it comes to a fully tailored recovery plan. Our son is a young elite competitive acrobatic gymnast who sadly had a high impact fall at gymnastics dislocating and fracturing his elbow and needed surgery, for a gymnast that trains many hours over 4 days week it was devastating blow, especially with GB competitions coming up. Once out of cast (wk 4 post opp) we started 2 x weekly physio sessions with Richard Saxton (who specialises in child’s physio), he was thorough, diligent and his amazing assessments fully supported the coaches at our sons gym to help build a safe recovery plan. The sessions with Richard and Sanford were fun, engaging and they took great care to help improve full mobility and strength. At week 7 post op our son was doing skills we thought would have taken 4mths to achieve, by week 10 he was back to full impact training, even our hospital follow up with the senior elbow consultant was blown away by the physio support we’d had and the rapid recovery. If it wasn’t for Chews we 100% would not be back training this quickly and not have had the reassurances it was safe to do so…..we’ve definitely found a physio for life. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts Team Chews. From Mel & JJ x x
Ruth Shearn
Ruth Shearn
2023-02-21
Have waited a few months post-treatment to write a review - just to be certain! Quite simply, I can't recommend these guys highly enough. I went to them with two badly damaged knees (miniscus tears). Having had three arthroscopes over the years, I was completely resigned to needing surgical intervention again. The Chews team had different ideas. After showing me the latest research findings, they assured me my knees could be rehabilitated without a scalpel. I had just a handful of sessions with them and am delighted to report that, six months on, my knees are great! I'm running 5k twice a week (don't laugh, I loathe running and am no spring chicken) without any pain and have taken up tennis. Everyone at Chews is passionate about their subject, knowledgeable, reassuring and friendly. I wouldn't go anywhere else.
Dave Stuart
Dave Stuart
2023-02-06
I have had a chronic back condition to varying degrees for many years which more recently has forced me to have weeks off work at a time. I was recommended Chews Health by a colleague having tried other physios in the past. However, I always felt that something was missing from the plan. My back muscles would on occasion go into spasm, or my disk to impinge on my nerve, affecting my mobility and effectively setting me back to square one. I came to Chews health a bit wary and was considering surgery due to how much my back was affecting my quality of life and mental health. It has not been a straight forward recovery, but i have made significant progress through having a thorough history taken, my ongoing concerns listened to, and being provided with a clear explanation of not only the exercise plan but additionally explaining why my body was responding in varying ways. This has educated about my condition and provided me with the tools to self manage my condition more effectively should it deteriorate again.. It has not been plain sailing, but I have absolute faith in Jack and his team.
lobo
lobo
2023-01-09
I had to attend Chews Health for help with pain in my elbow and they have been a fantastic help. I am now back to 100%.
The S
The S
2023-01-05
I can thoroughly recommend Chews Health physio. Sessions from diagnosis to rehabilitation are stimulating as well as therapeutic. Jack’s holistic, insightful approach goes beyond fixing the initial problem - he builds the confidence and self-knowledge to help maintain fitness and avoid strains and niggling injuries in the future. His message that the body needs exposure to regular challenges has inspired my journey towards optimum health.
Sam Butler
Sam Butler
2022-12-21
Excellent physiotherapy. After ACL and meniscus surgery I contacted Chews Health to find out about how they could help me feel more confident about returning to more intense sport after my injury. I felt listened to and we worked on a series of different of exercises that tested my knee. Very helpful and I now feel much more confident in my abilities.
feralie Bennett
feralie Bennett
2022-11-23
I saw Richard Saxton for a chronic pain in my achillies. 2 visits, with massage and exercises: clear concise instruction, both written and verbal to do at home were realistic & adapted for my ability - I now no longer require pain relief & can walk the dogs pain free & even manage a few hills. A follow up call to review my progress was also appreciated. The clinic was clean & well equipped. Would highly recommend.
Philip Conroy
Philip Conroy
2022-11-16
When I had severe back pain I was seen within 24 hours. The problem was resolved after 3 weeks of physiotherapy and exercises. I subsequently took up the annual gym membership package which includes regular reviews by the Physiotherapists. I feel this has benefitted me greatly as I had no previous experience of gyms and ensured I was using the equipment in the correct manner. At all times the staff have been very friendly and professional.
Maureen Morris
Maureen Morris
2022-11-10
Helped me tremendously. Lovely people - everyone very very supportive.
Cecilia Wright
Cecilia Wright
2022-10-31
I had been suffering from plantar fasciitis for some months and went Chews Health in the summer for shockwave treatment, after my podiatrist said she had heard good reports about it. Until then I had been resting, exercising it, icing it, using insoles etc., none of which had made much difference. I booked six treatments at the start (recommended) and by the time of the last treatment It was hardly noticeable, so much better! I’ve had two further treatments over the last month, just to be on the safe side, and I’m doing some exercises now to build up the strength in my calf and foot. Chews Health comes with heartfelt recommendations from me, they are friendly, very knowledgeable and best of all - they have fixed my sore foot!