Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Role of Physiotherapy in Sinusitis and headaches

Millions of people suffer from a headache from time to time. Physiotherapy aims to restore the body to normal function by employing techniques such as massage, manipulation, mobilization, heat, hydrotherapy and electrotherapy. Headaches are a complex type of pain and physiotherapy can help put a stop to them.

After determining the cause of your headache, a physiotherapist will use many techniques and methods to treat the problem. The physiotherapist will suggest exercises and they will also give advice on correcting posture. This advice may include adjusting your work station or alternating furniture at home.

More than 90% of headaches fall into the following four categories:
  • 1.       Tension or stress headache: The pain is often described as tightness or pressure and may feel like a band around the forehead.
  • 2.       Migraine headache: These tend to give more intense and pulsating pain, mainly on one side of the head. Sometimes the pain may be preceded by an aura, visual sign, and often other symptoms may accompany the headache, such as loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.
  • 3.       Cervicogenic headache: This headache develops from pressure or damage to the neck or spine. They can be caused by incorrect posture, a whiplash injury or from certain diseases.
  • 4.       Sinus headache

Sinus headaches:
Symptoms of sinusitis include severe headache, facial pain around the eyes or in the forehead or cheeks, pain in the roof of the mouth or teeth, excessive nasal drainage, fever and chills, feel generally ill, occasionally facial swelling around the eyes, sore throat, earache, frequent nosebleeds, and breath odor.

  • Anything which irritates the mucus membranes, including:
  • Dust; Mould; Pollen
  • Virus and bacteria
  • Air conditioning
  • Excess bone growth inside the nose; Deviated nasal septum; Nasal polyps
  • Facial trauma
  • Problems with upper teeth; Dental infections
  • Alcohol and smoking
  • Stress or overwork
  • Air pollution
  • Food allergies

If the body is in good condition the immune system works better and will give you more resistance to bacteria, viruses and dust, so that the sinuses drain better. This is particularly important considering that chronic sinusitis has been associated with a lowered immunity. Physiotherapy lowers stress on the nervous system and the joints. This in turn allows free movement between the scull bones helping to permit uninterrupted drainage of the sinuses. Physiotherapy has a positive effect on the immune system. White blood cells (which have an important role in protecting against infection), can be influenced by the nervous system.

The physiotherapist also has other options for sinus therapy. Use can be made of nebulization, laser and light therapy, ultrasound therapy, and rinoflow therapy, to mention but a few of the treatment modalities. Excellent results are normally achieved in two to three treatments with the abovementioned physiotherapy techniques. Bear in mind, however, that results depend on the state of the sinusitis (i.e. acute or chronic), patient compliance (i.e. whether cutting down on smoking, attending treatment) and most importantly, early referral achieves quicker results which inevitably saves on medical costs.

Alternative sinusitis treatment
Recommended herbs for alternative sinusitis treatment:
·         Echinacea – Boost the immune system and fights viral infection
·         Ginger root –Can be crushed and applied as a paste to the forehead and nose to stimulate circulation and drainage
·          Anise, fenugreek, marshmallow and red clover – Help to loosen secretions and clear congestion
·         Bitter orange oil – can be used to swab nasal passages for local relief.

More recommendations for sinusitis treatments:
Cut out dairy, except for low fat soured product like yogurt and cottage cheese. Dairy products increase mucus formation. Eliminate sugar and reduce salt intake. Drink plenty of distilled water, fresh vegetable and fruit juices. Consume plenty of hot liquids such as soups and herbal teas. These help mucus to flow, relieving congestion and sinus pressure. Adding cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, horseradish, and raw onion to soups or teas may bring even faster relief.

Written by Linda van Graan, Registered Physiotherapist

For more information, contact: 079 297 8872


  1. Excellent after-effects are commonly accomplished in two to three treatments with the abovementioned physiotherapy techniques.

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  2. you've written on a wonderful topic.There are so many articles I've seen but no one has been written on Sinusitis and headaches .Your great resource will definitely help people to get rid from headache.A great congratulate from physiotherapist in Ryde

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