Physiotherapy for Migraines
What is migraine?
Migraine is a complex neurological disorder that affects up to 20% of the population. It exists on a spectrum with some people experiencing occasional, mild symptoms while others have frequent and debilitating attacks.
One neurology professor describes it as ‘an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. It’s an instability in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information, and that instability can become influenced by physiological changes like sleep, exercise and hunger.’
What are the symptoms of migraine?
Migraine without aura is the most common type, accounting for 70-90% of all migraines. Symptoms vary from person to person but may include:
- A throbbing headache
- Sensitivity to light, sound and smell
- Nausea and vomiting.
A smaller percentage of migraine sufferers experience migraine with aura (aura describes neurological symptoms of migraine such as visual disturbances).
If that’s you, you’ll probably experience all the symptoms above plus:
- Strange visual symptoms such as blind spots, coloured spots, stars, zig-zag lines, flashing lights, tunnel vision or even temporary blindness
- Numbness or tingling
- Vertigo (feeling like the room’s spinning)
- Speech and hearing changes
- Feelings of fear and confusion.
A migraine attack may last hours or days, disturbing work, school or social activities. They’re a big deal.
Indeed, migraine is the sixth highest cause of years lost due to disability worldwide according to the World Health Organization. There are around 6.4 million Australians dealing with regular migraines with a total economic cost of $40 billion. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s ‘just a headache’.
To begin with, see your GP to discuss your migraines. Go with an explanation of your symptoms and their impact on your life. Ask for a referral to a specialist if necessary.
Migraine can’t be cured but the right team of health professionals can help you lessen its impact by reducing the frequency and severity of attacks. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment though, so be prepared for a bit of trial and error until you find out what works for you.
Treatment options include:
- Lifestyle changes to reduce stress and anxiety, promote a predictable routine, improve sleep and avoid any known migraine triggers
- A mix of medication to:
- Relieve pain
- Prevent attacks (these medicines are taken regularly)
- Ease symptoms (these medicines are taken at the onset of symptoms to ward off an attack)
Hormonal treatment (including the contraceptive pill) if migraines seem to occur with your menstrual cycle.
Exercise may also help manage migraine in some patients. In 2011, Swedish researchers conducted a randomised controlled trial and found that 40 minutes of exercise 3 times a week could be just as effective in preventing migraines as Topiramate, one of the leading anti-migraine medications. Exercise also proved more effective than resting.
How can physiotherapy help with migraine?
Physiotherapy is a natural therapy for migraine.
Your physio will listen to your symptoms and ask you some questions then do a thorough physical examination to assess different parts of your body looking at your:
- Range of motion
Phyios understand that your body is complicated. One muscle may be tense to compensate for a weaker one somewhere else. Both need attention.
Physiotherapy for migraine may pay particular attention to releasing tension in your neck and shoulders to reduce the occurrence of headaches. Physiotherapists can also help to improve your balance and reduce dizziness.
How Sycamore Health can help with migraines?
Migraines are complex. They influence (and are influenced by) many aspects of your physical and mental health. Sycamore Health is a multidisciplinary practice, giving you the benefit of coordinated care from a GP, psychologist, physiotherapist and exercise physiologist.
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Why Choose Sycamore Health?
Conveniently located in the heart of Caboolture: our clinic is just a stone's throw from Morayfield Shopping Centre and public transport, making us an easy stop.
Easy online bookings: we offer a straight-forward online booking system so that you can book your appointment in seconds, no matter the time of day.
Same-day appointments: we understand that sometimes you need to be seen by our team as soon as possible, so we keep a number of appointments each day for those who need help urgently.
Private treatment rooms: our treatment is provided one-on-one in private rooms to make sure you are comfortable.
A range of physiotherapy services: we offer a range of physiotherapy services, including hands-on treatment, custom home exercise programs, gym-based rehabilitation and tailored advice.
Qualified, highly-trained physiotherapists: our team of physiotherapists are all highly-skilled and fully qualified.
Customised therapies: we know that your situation is unique and will tailor your program and exercises to suit you.