Adelaide West Physio + Pilates | Headache Clinic logo

Should you keep a headache diary?

It comes up all the time when talking with people that suffer with persistent pain and even more often with headache sufferers.

The question is often asked ‘should I keep a headache diary?’.  That is if they don’t already.

Invariably, my answer is ‘NO!’ Please, no.

I shouldn’t generalise because there are some times where it could be beneficial, but they really do have the potential to be detrimental.

Part of the problem with headache diaries is that you run the risk of being more introspective and more pain-focussed.

You start off by doing a self-check.

‘Do I have a headache right now?’

‘Actually, that sun is bright, I might get one a little bit later if I stay our here too much longer’.

‘It feels like my neck is a little bit tight though, that might be the start of a headache’

‘Is that the start of a headache I can feel?’

‘Maybe it is’

‘Yes it is’

Then doing another self check. And another. And another.

Before you know it, you are doing self-checks multiple times a day. That level of introspection and pain focus is not helpful and has the potential to make matters worse.

So when would I consider a headache diary to be useful?

There are really only two situations.

If someone gets headaches or migraines and they can’t articulate or remember the location or the behaviour of the headache when I consider that it might be useful information in assessing their problem.

And then it is more likely to be ‘just take note of where you felt it’ before they forget, not checking in multiple times a day and writing down ‘Sunday – no headache, Monday – no headache, Tuesday – stiff neck and no headache’ etc.

So in reality it is rare for me to need someone to do that.

The other situation might be if I need more information to monitor for improvement.  For example, they might be a migraine sufferer, and I’m looking for more information on frequency ie just keep note of when you had a headache that required your medication.

It is often more helpful to monitor use of medication eg how many times in the last month have you needed to use Maxalt?  How many aspirin have you taken this week?

Beyond that, I would be very hesitant to suggest that someone keeps a headache diary.   Check in on Facebook instead.

Share this article and help someone

About the author

Russell Mackenzie
Russell Mackenzie
Russell is a physiotherapist and clinic owner in Adelaide, South Australia. He received his physiotherapy degree from UniSA in 1994, and has since also become a Credentialed McKenzie Therapist. Russell is the co-owner of Adelaide West Physio + Pilates and more recently, Adelaide West Headache Clinic, which was formed after becoming a Watson Headache Certified Practitioner to show his dedication and passion for headache and migraine treatment. Russell also aims to spread the word about the role of physiotherapy and non-surgical methods of helping persistent pain, low back pain and other conditions. Learn more about Russell on our About Us page.
Russell Mackenzie

Russell Mackenzie

Russell is a physiotherapist and clinic owner in Adelaide, South Australia. He received his physiotherapy degree from UniSA in 1994, and has since also become a Credentialed McKenzie Therapist. Russell is the co-owner of Adelaide West Physio + Pilates and more recently, Adelaide West Headache Clinic, which was formed after becoming a Watson Headache Certified Practitioner to show his dedication and passion for headache and migraine treatment. Russell also aims to spread the word about the role of physiotherapy and non-surgical methods of helping persistent pain, low back pain and other conditions. Learn more about Russell on our About Us page.
Table of Contents
Categories

Recent Articles

Popular Articles