What can PT do for Headaches?
Headaches are very common, and begin for many reasons, some unknown. Not only that, but there are different types of headaches from tension to migraine, and combinations of both. A physical therapist can help to identify triggers for headaches, help you to reduce the frequency and duration of headaches, and help you to be able to manage your symptoms through simple changes to your everyday activities.
Causes of Headaches:
- Tension Headaches: This type of headache is usually felt at the base of the skull. It can spread to the front and sides of the head as well. Generally this type of headache is brought on by stress and poor posture. Sitting at a desk while working at a computer for long hours causes poor posture of the head and neck. The problem comes because the postural muscles that hold the spine and neck in a normal posture weren’t meant to hold you while sitting for prolonged periods. They are meant to hold you upright while you are moving. EMG studies show that after 5 minutes of sitting your postural muscles are no longer working. This causes the back to hunch and the shoulders to round forward. The neck will automatically move backward to keep your gaze level. This shortens the muscles at the base of the skull, and increases tension, causing a headache. Over time, the muscles shorten enough that headaches become chronic and frequent.
- Migraines: Migraines are caused by many different triggers: environmental, foods, lack of sleep, and stress. This type of headache is due to the blood vessels in the scalp and head constricting. This can cause visual aura, numbness, tingling, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines should be diagnosed by your doctor. Physical therapy can be helpful in identifying triggers and helping to manage symptoms.
If you suffer from headaches it is worth your time to see a physical therapist for helpful strategies and treatments to correct posture, reduce stress, and ultimately decrease headache frequency and intensity.