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What a Headache is and How Can It Stop Our Everyday Activities…

Many of us have probably experienced headaches at one point or another and some of us may have even experienced migraines. A headache, in its simplest form, is pressure from something on your brain. A headache can be broken down into two main causes:

  • Headaches from external pressure
  • Headaches that come from internal pressure

The most common type of a headache is that which comes from external pressure. By that, we mean that something is pressing from the outside on the outside of the skull and causing it to thus press inward on the brain. This is what causes these kinds of headaches. These generally happen when something has irritated the muscles on the outside of the skull. While this can occur because of bright lights, loud noises, fatigue, etc, it usually happens because the muscles in your neck are tight, weak or injured. The irritation of the muscles in your neck causes them to pull on the base of your skull. This pulling puts tension on the muscles covering your skull causing them to put an inward pressure on the brain and thus set off the headache.

This is why when you have a headache, lying down or supporting your head feels comfortable and tends to lessen or alleviate the headache. The pressure on the bone on the back of your head, the suboccipital bone, produces a release in tension of the muscles in your neck and decreases the pressure on the muscles covering your skull. The fact that your head is more supported in this position means that all of the muscles have to work less to hold your head up. Remember, your head is like having a five to six pound bowling ball on your neck. Relieving that work load from those neck muscles enables them to calm down and release the pressure and therefore relieve the headache.

Anyone with recurring headaches or migraines are well aware of the possible debilitating pressure and pain that can prevent us from the likelihood of either getting out of bed or it landing us in bed away from the lights and sounds that can compound the pain. It can take your entire day away from you and can affect you ability to:

  • Cook breakfast in the morning
  • Pack lunches and get your kids off to school
  • Run errands
  • Do the laundry
  • Go to work.

With headaches, typically the small muscles in our neck and those covering our skull have gotten into a more permanent state of tightness and pressure. This is why our headaches will often go away for a day or two but then come back. Just like all muscles in your body, the muscles in your neck and skull are like rubber bands. If they are not treated promptly and properly, they will gradually shorten over time. So it is very common for us to see that the muscles in your neck, shoulder blades, shoulders and your skull are full of very small, but damaging, knots and areas of tightness. It is this tightness and these knots that prevent the muscles from completely releasing that tension and pressure on the skull. While they may relax for a short period of time, they have not returned to their full “normal” state and thus are very easily re-triggered so the headache returns the next day, next week or next month continuing to force you to cancel plans with friends last minute or preventing you from enjoying the weekend barbeque with family and friends. 

By Mike Bills, MS PT

Call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center TODAY at 703-450-4300 to schedule an appointment. Our Physical Therapists will do an evaluation to determine the cause of your headaches and help to alleviate and prevent your pain long term, so you can live your everyday life pain free!

CLICK HERE  for more on how physical therapy can help you alleviate your headaches.

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