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Treatment of severe headache and migraine by physiotherapy

Table of Contents


Any type of pain felt in a part of the head is called a headache. There are many types of headaches, and many factors play a role in causing them. The International Headache Society has classified different types of headaches as follows:

  • Tension headache
  • Cluster headaches (many of the symptoms of cluster headaches are similar to other types of headaches (such as tension headaches, migraines, hormonal headaches, and headaches in the back of the head and neck))
  • Secondary headaches are caused by a disease or medical conditions such as fever, infectious diseases, sinus disease, and in rare cases, tumours or other dangerous diseases.
  • Cranial neuralgia, facial pain, and other headaches
  • Headache during sleep: Headaches during sleep can reduce the quality of good sleep. Headaches can be caused by many reasons, including stress.
Treatment of severe headaches

Types of Forehead Headaches

Most forehead headaches do not harm a person’s health and get resolved independently. However, severe headaches that happen to you frequently can affect your ability to perform daily activities and reduce your quality of life.

There are effective treatments for almost all types of headaches. But the problem is in identifying the type of headache and the cause of the headache, as well as designing a suitable treatment plan that can reduce both the frequency and severity of headaches.

Physiotherapists can determine the type of headache you are suffering from and specialize in treating pain caused by tension headaches and migraines.
Many people who suffer from migraine headaches are not interested in taking migraine headache medicine for various reasons.

To treat migraine, other complementary methods, such as biofeedback, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and physical therapy, can be used to treat these people.

What Causes Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Treatment Methods for Headaches

According to the studies, among the many treatment methods for headaches, physical therapy (physiotherapy) and brain magnetic stimulation (TMS) have been known as the most effective methods.


Migraine treatment with physiotherapy must be done after your doctor’s prescription and by a professional and trained specialist in physical therapy.

Physiotherapy can relieve your headache and restore your original strength and mobility. The two main types of migraine treatment with physical therapy are passive and active physical therapy.

Non-active methods include massage, hot and cold packs, steroid creams, ultrasound waves, and TENS (electrical nerve stimulation), which uses low-voltage electrical currents to relieve pain and treat migraines.

Active physiotherapy methods include stretching exercises, exercises to restore the range of motion of the limbs and reduce pain, strengthening exercises, and non-traumatic aerobic exercises.

Some physical therapy methods can help reduce pain, at least temporarily, primarily if these methods are used early in the onset of pain. Patients should be educated on using ice packs and relaxation to reduce pain.

Family members can also help the patient with tasks such as massaging or stretching the head (neck) with their hands. The symptoms and causes of headaches differ in patients who suffer from them, so other patients react differently to the physiotherapy method.

Because physiotherapy mainly works on muscles and joints, it is the most effective way to treat migraine headaches that involve the neck or jaw.

Physiotherapy not only reduces the intensity of pain in these patients but can also prevent the recurrence of these pains. But how does physical therapy do this?

In some headache patients who suffer from musculoskeletal problems, the muscles and joints of the neck transmit the pain to the head. While in some other patients, neck or jaw joint problems can cause migraine headaches.

Treatment of musculoskeletal disorders related to the neck and jaw through physiotherapy reduces the stress on the joints and soft tissues. As a result, the headache in the affected person is relieved. Physical therapy and rehabilitation are designed to help restore the optimal function of your body parts and maintain this function throughout your life.

The treatment method for each patient is developed and planned based on the factors identified when diagnosing the cause of the headache. Each part of this program, including physical therapy and rehabilitation, is designed in a balanced and adjustable way so that it can be adjusted based on age, stage of life, history of previous injuries, and other possible environmental factors.

Physiotherapists obtain comprehensive information by thoroughly examining you, reviewing your medical records, performing thorough assessments and diagnostic tests, and most importantly, listening to what you say.

Magnetic Stimulation of the Brain

A migraine is often described as an electrical attack in which the brain exhibits an abnormal and intense emotional response to natural triggers. The result of this severe reaction can be very annoying headaches.

Clinical research has shown that a brief wave of energy, such as the waves used in magnetic brain stimulation (TMS), can effectively disrupt the progression or return of migraine waves.

Treatment of severe headaches

TMS Technology

TMS technology has been used for many years to study the brain. This technology’s most important and well-known use is in measuring the connection between the primary motor cortex and muscles.

This method is most effective for monitoring strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and motor neuron disease. TMS technology works based on the principle of induction of electric waves due to rapid changes in magnetic fields.

When TMS is applied to the back of the head, a magnetic field passes through the skull and the soft tissues of the head and reaches the brain in a concise time, completely non-invasively and without causing pain or discomfort.

This magnetic field induces very light electric currents in the brain tissue, stimulating brain neurons and removing their polarity. It is thought that this process can disrupt the abnormal electrical activity of the brain that causes migraines and cortical spreading depression disease (CSD).

In addition to the mentioned methods for migraine treatment, another complementary method such as biofeedback can be used.

Biofeedback is a behavioural therapy method used by doctors and psychiatrists to help people reduce the symptoms of their problems by learning how to control body functions.

Is the use of biofeedback effective for headache treatment?

In biofeedback, people are taught to control the automatic functions of their nervous system. These functions include heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, muscle tension, and brain wave activity.

Individuals learn to control these functions by observing monitoring devices and reproducing their desired behaviour. Relaxation techniques are also used to control these physical functions. Relaxation techniques include progressive relaxation exercises, yoga, transcendental meditation, or simply focusing on an image of silence, rest, and solitude.

For the successful treatment of patients, the appropriate method must be adopted. Skin temperature feedback may help migraine patients, but a combination of electromyography (EMG) and temperature feedback is preferred for most headache patients.

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