If you've ever wondered if physical therapy can help relieve your headaches, the answer is yes! Headaches are very common, and are caused by many different variables, both known and unknown. A physical therapist can help to identify triggers for headaches, as well as help to reduce the frequency and duration of them, and help you manage your symptoms through simple changes to your everyday activities.
Types and Causes of Headaches:
Tension headaches are usually rooted from the base of the skull, with pain spreading 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 and working at a computer for long hours causes poor posture of the head and neck, because the postural muscles that hold the spine and neck aren’t meant to hold you while sitting for prolonged periods. These muscles 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, which causes the back to hunch, and the shoulders to roll 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, which causes a headache. Over time, the muscles shorten enough that headaches become chronic and frequent.
Migraines can be triggered by many different elements: the environment, stress, lack of sleep, and even foods. A migraine occurs when the blood vessels in the head and the scalp are constricting, causing visual aura, numbness, tingling, nausea, and sensitivity to light or sound. Migraines should be diagnosed by your doctor. Physical therapy can be helpful in identifying triggers and managing symptoms.
If you suffer from headaches, it is worth your time to see a physical therapist! They can provide strategies and treatments to help you correct posture, reduce stress, and ultimately decrease headache frequency and intensity.