The stress headache… is it actually from stress?
We live in a fast paced world and as adults we can often feel like we are constantly under the pump. Whether it be at work, university, or home life we are all susceptible to the odd stress headache (tension headache) from time to time. Normally we just pop a panadol and keep pushing on. In private practice physiotherapists are seeing more and more people who simply accept weekly headaches as a normal part of their life and only present to us once the pain become too unbearable to ignore.
Dehydration or coffee withdrawals can certainly play a part in the development of a stress headache, however as a general rule of thumb, if a headache last more than a few hours or if you’re having multiple headaches each week then there is something else at play that needs to be addressed! Clinically I have seen completely healthy patients as young as 10 years old referred from their GP for management of stress related headaches which makes you wonder…how can a child be suffering from the same type of headache as a high powered CEO?
The truth is a substantial proportion of headaches are posture related. We all know by now that if we sit in static postures for long periods of time our muscles fatigue and we start to slump, this creates unnecessary strain on the neck joints. When we get stressed we tense up which only makes thing worse, but the stress is not the main factor! Have you ever watched someone on the train or at a café looking down at their phone furiously texting away? We spend hours every day looking down at those little devices and typically we classify that as stress relief!
So if you are suffering from frequent stress headaches try these three simple things for a few days and you’ll be amazed at the difference:
- Drink more water. Adequate hydrate is essential for our muscles to function. So if you’re sitting in the air conditioned office knocking back 2-3 coffees per day and only getting through 1L water you’re simply not drinking enough!
- Commit to walking on your coffee or lunch breaks. It doesn’t have to be far, around the office or around the block
- Put DOWN your phone! Just for a few days refrain from playing games or trolling social media at every chance you get. If you have to make a phone call use the earphones so you can maintain a neutral cervical (neck) posture.
If you do these three simple things and you are not dramatically better then make an appointment with one of our highly trained Betterfx physios (Myaree, Bibra lake, Willetton) so we can thoroughly assess your condition. A Betterfx Physiotherapist can successfully treat numerous types of headaches but more importantly give you the tools necessary to prevent them in the future. Treatment may include joint mobilizations to the upper cervical spine, specific retraining of the deep neck flexors (upper cervical spine stabilising muscles), stretching tight muscles, postural correction exercises, neural mobilizations, and patient education. So don’t keep popping pills, fix the cause or your headaches. It’s one less thing to stress about.
Betterfx Physiotherapy…. ‘We’ll keep you moving’