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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Frequent headache

    I have a headache every week on one side above my right ear. What should I do?
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  • 2

    Thanks

    Mr. Roger O'Toole

    Physiotherapist

    Roger O'Toole is the Director and senior clinician of The Melbourne Headache Centre. Since opening the Melbourne Headache Centre in 2012 Roger has amassed over … View Profile

    HI There,

     

    Firstly let me say I'm sorry to hear that you are sufferring with such frequent headaches. 60% of the people we see are sufffering weekly or more (30% are daily!), so I  understand that frustration that comes with this condition.

    The first thing I would check with you is how long have you been suffering with these weekly headaches. If this is a relatively new problem (less than 6 months) and you haven't been to see your doctor about it then that is aways a pruent first step.

    Whilst serious causes of headache are relatively rare, they do occur and it's important to know that your health is not at more serious risk.

    The next step is unfortunately where most people get stuck. That is the doctor will recommend a medication to help with the pain, and maybe you keep a diary to try and figure out what is triggerring the headaches, and often, nothing obvious is, and so we get stuck on an escalating casacade of medications to try and interupt and mask the symptoms.

    What you need to do, even if the medications are helping, is to seek an assessment with a headache practitioner to understand your headaches at a deeper level.

    Recurring headaches are often quite complex with one common underlying problem. The part of the brain housing the nerves for the head is under constant load - its like a coffee cup that is 3/4 full all the time, making it prone to 'triggers'.

    Whilst understanding triggers can be helpful, it doesn't help you 'empty the cup' and give you more capacity to deal with daily stressors that we encounter.

    The number 1 cause of this irritation are the three nerves that come in from the top of the neck. These nerves feed directly into the same area that houses the nerves from the head and face. Small faults in the top of the neck, have direct access to the nerves that will cause pain in your head.

    This is by far the most common source of the problem, and with techniques designed to treat these faults, and more importantly, the sensitivity they create, you can see significant changes quite rapidly.

    Traditional manual techniques (physio, chiro, osteo) can be helpful but are not specifically designed for headache.

    The technique we employ is purely to assess and treat the sensitivities created by irrtation of the brainstem from the top of the neck. This includes all forms of headache, migraine, nausea, cyclical vomiting, vestibular migraine etc.

    Find a therapist near you that uses the Watson Headache Approach.

    Regards

    Roger

    Director - Melbourne Headache Centre

  • Helen Potter

    Physiotherapist

    As a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, with extensive experience and highly advanced qualifications, as well as excellent communication skills, I can help you to: Become informed … View Profile

    While I agree with some of what Roger says above, there are no studies to show that one approach to headaches is more effective. As an investigator in the 2000 national study on the "Effectiveness of Physiotherapy for cervicogenic headaches", I can state that more than 70% of those with this type of headache were improved and stayed improved at twelve months post our Physiotherapy treatment.

    The most improtant thing for you to do is to have a clear diagnosis and effective evidence based treatment. Please contact a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiothearpist in your area and ask if they have expertise in headache.

    Good Luck Helen Potter FACP (as awarded by the Australian College of Physiotherapists 2007)

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