Headache

Headaches are a complex and often confusing form of pain.

Headache Overview

Headaches are a complex and often confusing form of pain. What most people don’t realize is that many forms of headaches are the result of tight muscles, stiff joints and poor posture. Treatment for headaches focuses on improving mobility of the joints or muscles of the neck, increasing strength of the neck stabilizers and improving posture.

Headaches are one of the most common reasons that people see their primary care physician and they account for 20% of outpatient visits to neurologists. People with chronic headaches report disabling symptoms that interfere with daily activities. Headaches can be classified into 2 catagories: Primary and Secondary.

Primary Headaches

  • Migraine
  • Tension Type
  • Cluster
  • Hemicrania Continua
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
Secondary Headaches

  • Temporalmandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Cervicogenic Headaches
  • Tension Type (musculoskeletal component)
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Trigger Points

Common Treatment of Headaches

A thorough physical therapy examination attempts to determine the type of headache and to define the neuromusculoskeletal factors contributing to it. Muscle tension, joint dysfunction of the neck and jaw, cervical disc degeneration / herniation, poor posture and stress are factors that can be addressed and treated by a skilled therapist.

If you are a headache sufferer and you are looking for a way to manage your headaches beyond using medication, talk to a trained and experienced physical therapist about possible conservative treatment options.

Manual Therapy
Manual physical therapy addressing muscle tension involves the release of trigger points, stretching the involved muscles and soft tissue, and restoring normal muscle function. Trigger point release can be accomplished with both manual and instrument assisted techniques.
Spine Therapy
Treatment of spine dysfunction may include mobilization/manipulation of the spine or jaw and the performance of stabilization exercises of the neck and shoulder girdle. Strengthening and stretching exercises to assist in correcting postural alignment are also often necessary to reduce the abnormal tension and compression that these tissues must endure. Most cervicogenic headaches that refer symptoms forward of the top of the head arise from the upper most segments of the cervical spine.
Traction
Decompression of irritated joints and discs throughout the cervical spine as well as of the nerve roots exiting the spine helps to relieve pain and inflammation leading to and perpetuating headaches. Treatment of spine dysfunction may include mobilization/manipulation of the spine or jaw and the performance of stabilization exercises of the neck and shoulder girdle.
Modalities
Treatments emphasizing heat, ice, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound individually or in combination can help to interrupt the cycle of pain, swelling, spasm, and tightness in the soft tissues and joints of the head, neck and jaw.

Physical Therapy and Rheumatoid Arthritis

For sufferers of Rheumatoid Arthritis, also referred to as RA, pain is often a part of daily life.  While some people with RA are capable of tolerating moderately intense activity, others find even the light tasks to be a challenge.  With the joint pain and...

The Many Benefits of Physical Therapy

A physical therapist is a specialist trained to work with you to restore your activity, strength, and motion following an injury or surgery. Physical therapists can teach specific exercises, stretches, and techniques and use specialized equipment to address problems...

A Guide to Physical Therapy Instrument Mobilization

Physical Therapy Instrument Mobilization (PIM) is an innovative concept that involves mobilizing your spinal and peripheral joints via a mechanical spring loaded instrument according to physical therapy principles. Physical therapy Instrument Mobilization is a safe,...

Pin It on Pinterest