How Physical Therapy can Put an End to Nagging Headaches
Hobbled by Chronic Headaches? Physical Therapy May Hold Your Answers
The minute you feel that familiar pain and pressure coming on, you know you’re in for a bad time. Headaches are regrettable commonplace in today’s world, with 80 to 90 percent of Americans enduring a tension headache at some point or other. But while some headaches are caused by biochemical imbalances, hypertension, tumors or other causes, many of them are the direct result of musculoskeletal problems. Fortunately, physical therapy is tailor-made to address and correct musculoskeletal problems, including the issues behind chronic headache pain. Let’s examine how our physical therapist can help you get rid of those nagging headaches the natural way.
The Musculoskeletal Causes of Headaches
You’ve probably heard of tension headaches, but you may not realize that the tension refers, not to emotional tension, but to muscular tension in the neck. Although emotional tension can certainly promote this muscular tension, so can underlying physical imbalances, weaknesses or damage. A traumatic injury to the neck such as whiplash is a prime example, with torn neck muscles and strained connective tissues referring agonizing pain to the head, face and shoulders as well as the neck.
Tension Headaches and the Dura Mater
But the classic tension headache is caused by a more subtle form of strain. Repetitive motions or poor neck/head posture that place the neck muscles under constant strain may also pull upon a sensitive membrane known as the dura mater. The dura mater envelops the brain, and at the base of the skull, it lies in close proximity to small muscles such as the RCPM muscle. When these muscles go into spasm, the dura mater gets tugged – and it reacts by sending pain messages into the head.
Cervicogenic headaches are another kind of neck-related head pain. These headaches involve the topmost three vertebrae of the neck. Some cervicogenic headaches are caused by concussions or arthritis, but work-related strain is another potential trigger. People who typically droop their heads downward for many hours a day (hairdressers, long-haul drivers, smartphone addicts, etc.) are prone to these headaches.
Our Physical Therapist Can Provide Natural Headache Pain Relief
Drugs can’t do much more than offer pain relief for an isolated headache, which isn’t good enough if you suffer from chronic headache pain. Our physical therapist will start by evaluating your posture, asking you about your symptoms and medical history, and study X-rays or other diagnostic data from your primary care physician to figure out the biomechanical origins of your chronic headache problem. A detailed physical therapy program can then be formulated to address your specific musculoskeletal issues.
Physical therapy can relieve chronic headaches in a number of ways. Exercises to loosen, lengthen and relax the muscles of the neck can be highly effective at easing the spasms that set off tension headaches. You may also benefit from exercises such as the supra-clavicle release, which strengthens neck muscles weakened by postural imbalances. If tension in the fascia of the jaw or face is contributing to your neck tension and headaches, a lying-down posture with the relevant trigger points resting on a tennis ball can release that tension.
Exercises are only one aspect of physical therapy to relieve headaches. Our physical therapist may also prescribe massage therapy, ultrasound and lifestyle recommendations to help you stop sabotaging your neck and head in your everyday activities. This holistic approach can free you from your headache problem – as well as freeing you from a reliance on pain-relieving drugs.
Start Feeling Better – Talk to Our Physical Therapist
If you’re ready to enjoy serious, lasting headache pain relief, it’s time to talk to our physical therapist. Call our office today!