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How Physical Therapy Can Get Rid of Your Headaches

By: Angie Austin, LPTA

Headaches are something we have probably all experienced at some point in our lives. In fact, some people experience daily headaches. A headache is associated with pain anywhere in the head or scalp. Sometimes, pain occurs in the neck. The symptoms of a headache can range from an ache or tension-like pain to sharp or piercing pain that can increase or be triggered by a number of causes.

Physical therapy is a highly effective treatment method for headaches when it’s caused by something related to muscles or a joint. These kinds of headaches start because of the following:

  • Muscle tension and tightness in the neck
  • Muscle tension and tightness between the shoulder blades
  • Cervical disc pathology
  • Poor posture
  • Decreased joint mobility

It’s common for individuals to come to physical therapy for neck pain not realizing the headaches also may have are usually connected. Two of the most highly treatable headaches are cervicogenic and tension headaches. 

Tension headaches: 

Physical therapy has been shown to be highly beneficial for tension headaches. These headaches feel like a dull, aching pain and often include tightness across the forehead or sides or the back of the head. People often describe feeling like they are wearing a headband that is too tight or a clamp is squeezing their skill. The scalp, shoulder muscles and neck muscles are often tender to the touch with these headaches. Tension headaches don’t generally last very long however, the most common trigger is stress so you can imagine, these headaches can be reoccurring.

Cervicogenic Headaches: 

This type of headache comes from a neck problem. Patients typically describe the pain as being on only one side of their head. It’s accompanied by neck pain as well. Common locations include the base of the skull, behind the eye or in a line from the base of the skull toward the face or eye. In physical therapy, we focus treatments on correcting the root neck problem through manual therapy and with exercises to improve posture. Improving mobility and postural stability will help decrease the stress on the neck muscles and therefore allow healing to begin.

Persistent headaches that are related to the muscles or joints, even if they have been occurring for a long time, will continue to come back if that root cause, the tension and tightness in the neck and shoulder muscles, are not addressed properly addressed with therapy. Measures such as aspirin, heating pads or massage will only bring temporary not lasting relief. If you’re dealing with headaches or have had reoccurring headaches in the past, call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center TODAY at 703-450-4300 to start handling that pain for good! CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help. 

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