Did You Know Physical Therapy Can Fix Your Headaches?
Have you ever experienced a headache? Do you seem to experience them more often than you would like? Has it started to affect your daily routine and your mood? Do you find yourself taking over the counter medications such as Tylenol, Ibuprofin or Aspirin to try and resolve your headaches? Have you seen a doctor and been given coping techniques, but they don’t seem to be working?
More than 45 million Americans complain of headaches each year and you may be one of them. Headaches can be debilitating. They can make it difficult to concentrate, affecting your work, your sleep, your mood and your lifestyle. Many people “live” with these headaches and have short term solutions (such as over the counter medication) but are still left without an answer on how to fully resolve their headaches.
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The most common types of headaches which affect 80–90% of the population are called Tension Type Headache (TTH) or Cervicogenic Headaches. These headaches can be episodic or chronic in nature with mild to significant disabling pain. They are associated with a constant ache or pressure around both sides of the head, neck or temples. They originate from tension or stress in the muscles of your head, neck, jaw, and shoulders. The tension in these muscles increase pressure on the nerves to your face and head which can trigger a headache. The headache is a referred pain from musculoskeletal dysfunction, which means that fixing the “problem” (tension in your neck, posture, cervical stiffness, etc.) can alleviate the headache.
If you do not address the cause of the problem, your headache will “rebound” or re-occur and continue to negatively affect your daily lifestyle.
What most people don’t know is that the safest and most effective form of treatment for Tension Type Headaches and Cervicogenic Headaches is PHYSICAL THERAPY.
You no longer need a doctor prescription to book your physical therapy appointment and can start receiving treatment on demand with the betterPT mobile app. Through the app you can search and find trusted physical therapy clinics and see which clinics are in your area, which clinics take your insurance and have availability on the day you need it.
Physical therapy can help by performing a comprehensive musculoskeletal exam to determine which structures are contributing to your symptoms. The exam includes assessment of:
- ROM of the head/neck
- Joint mobility of your cervical spine especially the upper cervical segments (C1, C2)
- Musculature tightness and trigger points in your head, neck, shoulders, chest.
- Strength and endurance of the deep cervical neck flexors and axioscapular muscles
- Sitting posture, standing posture and sleeping position
Based on the results of your examination your physical therapist will find the CAUSE of your headaches and will address those deficits to alleviate your symptoms. Physical Therapy treatment may include:
- Electrical stimulation and heat: to warm up your tissue and relax your muscles
- Manual techniques such as:
- hands on mobilization/movement of your stiff cervical segments
- Soft tissue massage techniques to alleviate muscle tension and trigger points
- Stretching techniques to increase mobility of shortened and tightened muscles
- Dry needling which uses a needle to alleviate myofascial trigger points
- Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) that use the muscles own energy in the form of gentle contractions to relax tonic muscles by activating the opposing muscle which in turn lengthens the tight muscle tissue
- Therapeutic exercise program: to activate and strengthen weak muscles
- Postural education and body mechanic awareness: on how to sit, stand and move correctly to place your bones and muscles in optimal alignment.
- Proper breathing techniques: to re-learn how to breath correctly through your diaphragm instead of your accessory muscles.
After a few sessions of physical therapy, you should be combating the cause of your headaches instead of masking the symptoms, leaving you happy, focused and headache free.
Download the betterPT app today to start on your path to recovery and get BETTER!