Headaches are the most common complaint of humanity. The good news is however, once the type of headache you are suffering from is diagnosed, an effective treatment plan can help.
Headaches can be classified into 2 categories; primary and secondary. Primary headaches can be sub-categorized further to either migraine or tension type headaches . The importance of identifying which type of headache you have is paramount, as this will determine the treatment approach which will relieve the symptoms. Migraines can be bilateral or unilateral in nature. Features include fast onset, throbbing, light and sound sensitivity, visual disturbances and nausea. Triggers may include fever, sleep disturbances, stress, certain foods and changes in the endocrine system such as pregnancy and puberty. They may last from 4 to 72 hours. A treatment approach consisting of medical acupuncture has been proven very effective in the treatment of such migraines. Meridian points throughout the body are used during this approach, as opposed to a dry needling technique, which is aimed more directly at muscular tension.
Tension type headaches on the other hand are more common than migraine and a complaint which is presented to us regularly here at Dunboyne Physiotherapy Clinic. The clinical features of tension headaches include a pressing or tightening sensation, are mild to moderate in intensity, and are mostly bilateral in nature. They and can last up to 30 minutes in duration. Triggers are different to those of migraine and can include poor posture, emotional stress, alcohol use, jaw clenching, eye strain, fatigue or over exertion. Treatment of tension type headaches includes postural improvements, sufficient sleep and regular exercise to help reduce stress. Recent studies have proven that dry needling to release trigger points and muscle tension is an effective non- pharmacological intervention.
The other common type of headaches are secondary type headaches. Secondary type headaches can be due to trauma such as a whiplash injury or a post traumatic episode. Sporting injuries and repetitive strain injuries are also among the causes. Features of this type of headache are usually a slow onset and unilateral in nature. History of an injury is common such as a motor traffic accident or sports injury. Patients usually complain of a constant dull ache. A treatment approach including the use of dry needling and joint mobilisation has proven very effective for this type of headache.
Dry needling or medical acupuncture when administered by a chartered physiotherapist trained in these techniques is a safe and non-painful intervention to treat headaches or migraines. Combined with manual therapy and a home exercise program stubborn headaches or migraines can be relieved effectively.
Chartered Physiotherapist-Dunboyne Physiotherapy Clinic