Headaches in pregnancy: All you need to know

If you are pregnant and headache, you are not alone. It is common for a pregnant woman to suffer from headaches or migraines. Studies show that between 40 percent and 50 percent pregnant women Suffers from headache and migraine 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 headaches.

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

  • Tension headache: If you are tense, hungry or feel pain in your neck or shoulders, you may have a tension headache, which feels like a mild to moderate dull ache. This is one of the most common types.

  • Cervicogenic headache: This refers to a headache arising from dysfunction or inflammation Musculoskeletal structure of the upper cervical spine.

  • Cluster headaches: These cause a severe “stabbing” pain, usually on one side of the head and around the eye. A person may also notice some other symptoms, such as a stuffy nose, watery eyes, or swelling in the area.

  • Migraine: With a migraine headache, you can expect moderate to severe pain that throbs for hours or days. Some women with migraine also experience blurred vision, light flashes, numbness and nausea.

  • Sinus headache: Pressure around your eyes, cheeks, and forehead and a stuffy nose can indicate a sinus headache. These usually occur with sinus infections, but they are also commonly confused with migraines. In both cases, the pain may increase when you bend forward or lie down.

due to headache

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

first quarter

Tension headaches are common in your first trimester pregnancy, This may be because many changes are taking place in your body at this time. These changes can trigger headache pain:

  • hormonal changes

  • high blood volume

  • change in weight

common causes of headache pain during first quarter Pregnancy also includes:

Certain foods can also cause headaches. your trigger Foods may change during pregnancy. Common foods that cause headaches in some people include:

  • dairy

  • chocolate

  • cheese

  • yeast

  • tomato

second and third trimester

Headaches can have different causes during your second and third trimesters. This includes:

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

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

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

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

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

  3. He suffered from primary headache, but now the pain varies in quality, intensity or associated symptoms.

In the second and third scenarios, headache should be treated as an underlying symptom. disease until a proper diagnostic evaluation is performed.

The International Headache Society (IHS) has validated cervical headache as a secondary headache type hypothesized to be caused by nociception in the cervical region.

Cervicogenic headaches can mimic migraines, so it can be difficult to differentiate 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 base of the cervical spine (neck) or skull region.

Despite the rare cases in which the first attack occurs during the first pregnancy, nearly a quarter of pregnant women report that the expected cluster Period does not develop during pregnancy, while it may start soon after delivery

pregnant women Headaches are usually associated with neck or shoulder tenderness or pain and tension where a physiotherapist can play an important role especially in cervicogenic headaches. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)


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

  • Pain around eyes.

  • Headache with fixed neck Posture or movement.

  • Steady pain that does not throb.

  • Headache when coughing, sneezing or taking a deep breath Breath,

  • An attack of pain that can last for hours or days.

  • Stiff neck – You cannot move your neck normally.

  • Pain that persists in one place, such as the back, front or side of your head, or your eye.

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

What can you do to prevent pregnancy headaches?

  • avoid headaches triggers, If certain foods or odors have caused headaches in the past, avoid them. A headache diary can help you identify triggers.

  • Incorporate physical activity into your routine. Try going for a daily walk or other moderate aerobic exercise.

  • manage stress, Find healthy ways to deal with stress.

  • Practice relaxation techniques. Try deep breathing, massage, and visualization.

  • Eat regularly. eating regularly scheduled meals and maintaining a Healthy Diet Can help prevent headaches. Also, drink plenty of fluids.

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule. Lack of sleep can contribute to headaches during pregnancy.

  • Watch your currency. Don’t slouch, slouch, or slouch for long periods of time while you do close work (knitting little booties, preparing your child’s scrapbook). parts of time.

  • go alternative. You can consult a physiotherapist to prevent tension headaches from building up.

Physiotherapy Management for Headache:

Physiotherapists can’t change the chemistry imbalance Those in your body that cause headaches, but they can help reduce other sources of migraines. Physical therapy techniques can strengthen and stretch the muscles of the neck and back. When these muscles are tense from poor posture or excess weight (during pregnancy), they can cause headaches and migraines, with the treatment below.

  • parts

  • strengthening exercise

  • posture re-education

  • sensorimotor training

  • MFR and trigger point release

  • (myofascial) mobility, strength, stability and posture exercises

It is surprising that most individuals with headaches often comment that receiving physiotherapy treatment acts as a light switch: once treatment is received, the headache stops.

(The author is Lead Physiotherapist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bangalore-Jayanagar.)

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