Headaches are one of the most difficult conditions in general practice. They are often the most disabling and limiting of conditions most people experience.
Recent research released at an international conference in Perth offers answers for at least some of the many headache sufferers. Professor Gwen Jull of the University of Queensland released the findings of an Australia wide multi centre study carried out over two years. This trial compared a number of common treatments for headaches and the resulting improvements in the patient’s condition.
Two hundred subjects suffering from headaches for longer than six weeks were randomly assigned to four different groups. The control group received no specific treatment, and the other three groups received either
Specific physiotherapy mobilisation to the neck. A new form of specific low load exercises for the deep neck flexors. A combination of physiotherapy and low load exercises.
The results of this study showed that those clients receiving specific physiotherapy mobilisations, the low load exercise, or a combination of these two managements, all showed significant improvements in comparison to the control group. The combination of the two therapies was shown to be better than either of the treatments individually.
Not only this, but the improvements were shown to be lasting over a 12 month period.
In comparison it was found that the medication levels of clients undergoing these form of treatments dropped significantly, whereas the control group increased their medication intake over time.
The other interesting finding was that the majority of patients with cervicogenic headache reported that the headache pain was worse than the pain in their neck.
Significant benefits were still derived even if the symptoms have existed for many years prior to receiving this form of treatment.
This research is the first of its type in the world, and gives guidance to practitioners in dealing with this very difficult and disabling problem. It offers hope for those suffering from headaches no matter how long the problem has existed.
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