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Headaches in pregnancy: All you need to know

To prevent stress from building up into a headache you can consult a physiotherapist.

headache in pregnancyStudies show that around 40 percent and 50 percent of pregnant women suffer from headaches and migraines (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

By Shazia Shadab

If you’re pregnant and having headaches, you’re not alone. It is common for a pregnant woman to suffer from headaches or migraines. Studies show that around 40 percent and 50 percent of pregnant women suffer from headaches and migraines respectively. Unfortunately, research also shows that these headaches can continue postpartum. The most common headaches during pregnancy are tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches, cluster headaches, migraines and sinus headache.

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The presentation or symptoms of the headache depend on the type of headache that you have.

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CAUSES FOR HEADACHE

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The most common headaches during pregnancy are tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches, cluster headaches, migraines and sinus headache.  (Source: Getty Images)

First trimester

Tension headaches are common in the first trimester of your pregnancy. This may happen because your body is undergoing several changes at this time. These changes may trigger headache pain:

Common causes of headache pain during the first trimester of pregnancy also include:

Some foods may also cause headaches. Your trigger foods may change during pregnancy. Common foods that may cause headaches in some people include:

Second and third trimester

Headaches during your second and third trimester may have different causes. These include:

Regardless of the type of headache, a common factor is that headaches typically are associated with neck or shoulder tenderness or pain and stress where a physiotherapist can play an important role especially in the cervicogenic headache

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Cervicogenic headache (CGH) is a chronic headache that arises from the atlanto-occipital and upper cervical joints and perceived in one or more regions of the head and/or face.

The first purpose is to distinguish a primary headache (when pain is the disease) from a secondary headache (when pain is a symptom of another disease). More strictly, this is the main concern with a pregnant woman suffering from this symptom. Three scenarios are possible:

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  1. She suffers from a primary headache and now she presents with her usual headache;

  2. She does not suffer from a primary headache and she presents with her first severe headache during pregnancy;

  3. She suffers from a primary headache, but now pain is different in quality, intensity or associated symptoms.

In the second and third scenarios, headache must be considered as a symptom of an underlying disease until an appropriate diagnostic evaluation has been performed.

The International Headache Society (IHS) has validated Cervicogenic headache as a secondary headache type that is hypothesized to originate due to nociception in the cervical area.

Cervicogenic headaches can mimic migraines, so it may be difficult to distinguish a cervicogenic headache from a migraine headache. The primary difference is that a migraine headache is rooted in the brain, and a cervicogenic headache is rooted in the cervical spine (neck) or base of the skull region.

.Despite the rare cases in which the first attacks occur during the first pregnancy, almost a quarter of pregnant women report that an expected cluster period does not develop during gestation while it may start soon after delivery

Headaches typically are associated with neck or shoulder tenderness or pain and stress where a physiotherapist can play an important role especially in the cervicogenic headache. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

SYMPTOMS

In addition to a throbbing head pain, symptoms of a cervicogenic headache may include:

Cervicogenic headaches can also cause symptoms similar to migraine headaches, such as light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, blurry vision, and an upset stomach.

What can you do to prevent pregnancy headaches?

Physiotherapy management for headache:

Physical therapists cannot alter the chemical imbalances in your body that cause headaches, but they can help reduce other sources of migraines. Physical therapy techniques can strengthen and stretch the neck and back muscles. When these muscles are strained from poor posture or extra weight (as during pregnancy), they can cause headaches and migraine with below mentioned treatment.

It’s amazing that most individuals with headaches often comment that receiving physiotherapy treatment acts as a light switch: once treatment is received, the headache switches off.

(The writer is Lead Physiotherapist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru – Jayanagar.)

For all the latest Parenting News, download Indian Express App.

First published on: 23-06-2022 at 11:00:50 am
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