You may typically think of physical therapy as a treatment for injuries or muscle pains, but did you know that it can also help get rid of your headache pain? Headaches affect 47% of the global population. Many headaches are harmless and resolve gradually. However, frequent headaches and migraines can severely impact your quality of life and your ability to participate in daily activities.
There are different types of headaches, including tension (muscular), neck joint related (cervicogenic), migraines, and secondary headaches from underlying conditions.
Tension headaches are rarely debilitating, but there is no need to prolong suffering. Tension headaches are caused when neck and shoulder muscles tighten up. Constant stress is the leading cause of tension headaches. Women are more likely than men to suffer from tension headaches.
Cervicogenic headaches stem from the structures in the neck and radiate into other areas. This type of headache may occur gradually or due to an injury. Cervicogenic headaches symptoms include decreased ability to move head or neck, neck pain, muscle tenderness, shoulder/arm pain on the side of the headache, weakness, dizziness, and nausea.
Migraines can be severe and disabling. Migraines are disorders in the central nervous system and involve the nerves and blood vessels. Migraines can be triggered by light, noise, odors, dehydration, lack of sleep, and many other factors. Neck pain is a large trigger.
There are many treatment options for headaches, but physical therapy is one of the best treatments. It is natural and holistic and comes with no harmful side effects. Medications affect the central nervous system to address dysfunction, while physical therapy works on the muscles and joints and also affects the central nervous system. Physical therapy can provide relief and a long-term solution for headache and migraine sufferers.
Headaches are often connected to other injuries that can be treated concurrently if needed. Working with a physical therapist helps decrease or resolve the intensity and frequency of headaches. It reduces medication use, improves function and mobility, and improves motion in the neck.
When you see one of our physical therapists, we will perform a clinical examination to diagnose the type of headache and develop an effective treatment plan. We begin with in-depth testing to rule out serious causes and ensure appropriate treatment methods. We will help you uncover the underlying sources that may be leading to your current pain and look for any connections like poor posture or spasms of the face muscles.
Treatments vary and are combined. Some treatment options include neck manipulation, dry needling, identifying headache-producing trigger points and applying the correct pressure to help the muscle soften, and specific neck exercises.
We will show you how to relieve muscle tension, to further prevent headache pain from returning. We will recommend exercises and demonstrate/teach correct posture so you can alleviate pressure and pain between treatment sessions.
We have had patients see immediate improvements, while others need to attend more treatment sessions, this all depends on the severity and root of the pain.
One patient shares her experience with physical therapy, "I made an appointment with Dr. Rainey after dealing with chronic migraines for years. I've used all sorts of medications and injections, but physical therapy probably has helped the most. I have never felt rushed or unheard with Dr. Rainey and the staff; they are all very nice and pay attention to what you are saying. If one thing doesn't work, they will try something else. My headaches, neck aches, and tension issues decreased substantially after a few visits and recommended exercises. Super happy with my experience here, and will continue to use the office when my family or myself need PT." ~Rachel S.
If you are experiencing recurrent headaches, have tried other remedies with no success, and are looking for more natural treatment, schedule an appointment today with one of our physical therapists.