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Headaches

Can Physical Therapy really help headaches?! When I first heard this was possible, I remember being skeptical as well but as someone who has experienced it first hand, I can tell you that it is in fact a real thing. The effectiveness of the physical therapy treatment option on headaches is obviously dependent on the cause of the headaches, but let’s start with the basics and get back to that.

What is a headache?

According to the Mayo Health Clinic, a headache is defined as “pain in any region of the head. Headaches may occur on one or both sides of the head, be isolated to a certain location, radiate across the head from one point, or have a vise-like quality. A headache may be a sharp pain, throbbing sensation or dull ache. Headaches may appear gradually or suddenly, and they may last less than an hour or for several days.” (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/headache/MY00407)

Tension-type headaches are the most common headaches in adults. They come about for a couple of reasons, the most common including poor posture, neck/jaw problems, fatigue, or stress. Individuals with poor posture will find that they are overworking certain muscles in their neck and shoulders. Many of these muscles actually attach to the skull and this extra pull on the skull can cause a headache. Injury to the area can also lead to more stress on the muscles and nerves of the neck and face, causing headaches. Stress has been the most commonly reported trigger for tension-type headaches.

How does a tension headache feel?

Tension headaches, like migraines, tend to start at the back of the head and spread to the top of the head and the eyes. Some people will feel an increased tension along the jaw bone. Although tension headaches and migraines can feel a lot alike, tension headaches are usually not accompanied by nausea or visual impairments.

Can Tension Headaches be prevented?

There are many lifestyle changes that you can implement to help decrease or eliminate tension headaches from your life.

  • Work on your posture
  • Improve your strength in the muscles in your neck and back
  • Improve neck mobility
  • Get enough, but not too much sleep.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat regular, balanced meals.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Limit alcohol, caffeine and sugar.

How can a physical therapist help?

Physical therapists have the skill set to determine if your headaches are tension headaches or are the result of some other underlying cause. They are trained in manual therapy techniques to improve neck mobility, have the knowledge to teach you about posture, and have a repertoire of therapy exercises to help you strengthen the muscles in your neck and back. Physical therapy is a drug free one stop shop treatment!

Interested in starting the journey to end your head/neck pain? Call PROCare Physical Therapy and set up a free no obligation 15 minute pain assessment with one of our physical therapists. They can determine the cause of your headaches and whether they believe we can help you to get rid of them. Our physical therapists are also trained in dry needling, a physical therapy technique that helps loosen especially tight muscle knots. If physical therapy hasn’t worked in the past, consider coming in and trying this new treatment option. It has worked wonders for other people. Call today for more information at 414-727-3345, check out our website at www.procarept.org, or email me at jlove@procarept.org

References: Mayoclinic.com, moveforwardpt.com, and georgia-clinic.com

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