I think I now understand – and understanding is a significant step forward in my journey with tension headaches.
When I started this journey I thought I was getting migraines, only to discover that what I was experiencing was not a migraine but the result of the muscles around my head going into spasm and forming a vice around my cranium.
As seems to be the case with modern medicine, the answer that I was given was medication – muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory.
While this medication put my headaches under control they didn’t feel like a permanent solution. Anti-infammatory drugs aren’t ones you really want to plan on taking for the rest of your life. So another visit to the doctor told me that my problem was exacerbated by my poor posture and the effect that this was having on my shoulder and neck muscles.
As a veteran keyboard user I knew the problems that sitting at a desk caused, but I’d taken more than 20 years getting to this position and getting out of it wasn’t going to happen just because a GP has given me a lecture. I knew that I needed some help in retraining my body, but the GP didn’t think that physiotherapy was the answer, but didn’t have a better answer either.
So, against the GPs advice, I decided to pay for some physiotherapy and see how we got on.
After a few weeks of physiotherapy I now understand what it is that causes my headaches (and neck and should pain) and how to avoid it. I don’t think I knew what a good posture felt like before starting out on the physiotherapy and while I don’t always manage to maintain it, I now know when I’m mistreating my back, shoulder and neck. I also know what exercises improve my posture and strengthen the muscles that I am under utilising- and relax the ones that I am over utilising.
Some of the exercises are quite comical and I do feel a bit ridiculous when laid on the floor with my face in the carpet and my arms hanging off the ground to the side (strengthening my middle back muscles). Some of the neck stretching exercises look more gruesome than they feel.
The aim has been to retrain my body to do the right thing and I feel like I’m getting there now. I no longer take the anti-inflammatory medication on a daily basis and feel better for it.
It was a 20 year journey getting into the problem and I don’t expect the journey out to take a few days so I need to keep working at it.