According to the International Headache Society, headaches are the third most common pain complaint throughout the world. While headaches can be debilitating, physical therapy can, fortunately, help manage the pain and sometimes eliminate it altogether. Our physical therapists are highly trained and dedicated to helping you relieve your headaches. For more information on headache relief and how you can benefit from our services, contact us today!
Why am I experiencing a tension (stress-related) headache?
Tension headaches are some of the most commonly treated headaches by a physical therapist. They occur when the neck and scalp muscles contract or become tense, and they can happen at any age. Stress-related headaches generally start at the back of the head and progress to the top of the head and eyes, sometimes accompanied by facial pain along the jaw and cheeks. This type of discomfort has been compared to having hair pulled or wearing a very tight hat. These types of headaches can occur as a result of:
- Increased stress.
- Poor posture.
- Neck or jaw problems.
I don’t think I have a tension headache… what else could it be?
Any type of pain that occurs within the head can be referred to as a “headache.” Most headaches will resolve on their own without medical intervention; however, severe or recurrent headaches that interfere with one’s quality of life should most certainly be evaluated further. The challenge lies in identifying which type of headache you’re experiencing and then devising a treatment plan accordingly. Physical therapists are adept at diagnosing different types of headaches and can develop pain relief strategies for stress-related headaches.
There several different types of headaches that can be treated with physical therapy. These include, but are not limited to:
- Stress (tension).
- Migraine or sinus.
How can physical therapy help me?
At your initial visit, your physical therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your physical abilities, in addition to reviewing your health history. He or she will ask you a series of questions to determine the type of headache you’re experiencing. After your physical therapist determines what type of headache you’re dealing with you’ll work together to develop a treatment plan for meeting your physical health goals.
During your first visit, you can expect to undergo some of the following:
- Inquiries about the location of the pain, in addition to any other symptoms you are experiencing.
- Tests of your muscle strength and sensation.
- Questions regarding previous injuries to your neck, head, jaw and/or back.
- Examination of your posture while engaged in different activities.
- Manual therapy to ascertain the mobility of joints and muscles in your neck.
- Measurements regarding the range of motion of your shoulders, neck, and other relevant parts of the body.
What are some different treatments provided by physical therapists?
Your physical therapist may suggest any combination of specialized treatment services, including but not limited to:
- Strengthening exercises.
- Stretching exercises.
- Heat or ice compressions.
- Muscle energy techniques.
- Muscular releases.
- Body mobilization.
- Soft tissue mobilization.
- Cervical traction.
- McKenzie-based therapies.
With all treatment plans, you can expect to receive education that will supplement your in-office experience.
The mission of physical therapy:
While the end goal of physical therapy is pain relief, there are some important steps along the way that your physical therapist will help you with, in order to decrease pain and improve function. These include, but are not limited to:
- Strength improvement. You’ll learn exercises to help strengthen the muscles that control your neck and upper back, in order to improve posture and increase your ability to stand or sit comfortably for longer periods of time.
- Neck improvement. Using manual therapy, your physical therapist will stretch the muscles in the back of your neck to relieve pain and increase movement.
- Posture improvement. Your posture throughout the day greatly impacts your likelihood for pain and stress-related headaches. Your physical therapist will teach you methods of improving your posture in order to function more comfortably in your daily life.
If your headaches are limiting your daily life, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Without physical therapy intervention, they may get worse and may not go away on their own. Schedule your consultation today to get started on the path toward relief and discuss how our personalized treatment plans can help you get back to your life!