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Headache Treatment

Physical therapy is a successful treatment option for your headaches.  One key to successful treatment of your headaches is identifying the type of headache that you have.  This is easier said than done as the symptoms may be similar and it is not uncommon to suffer from more than one type of headache.

Common types of headaches include:

Tension headaches

Pain is generally on both sides of the head, although symptoms may be on only one side.  The symptoms are generally not related to activity or rest and are often constant.

Cervicogenic headaches

Pain is generally over the back of the head, but may involve either or both sides of the head.  The symptoms are often postural related and are aggravated by prolonged head postures.

Cluster headaches

Pain is generally one-sided, severe and usually associated with pain behind the eye.  Activity generally improves this type of headache and lying down worsens the symptoms.  Cluster headaches tend to occur in “clusters” at the same time of the day for a period of weeks or months.  Symptoms may then disappear for several months.

Migraine headaches

Pain is experienced throughout (deep within) the head.  Sufferers often describe “pulsing or throbbing” symptoms that are increased by light and sound.  Activity increases the symptoms requiring individuals to lie down.  Symptoms may last from 4-72 hours and occur more frequently in women than in men.

Tension and cervicogenic headaches are often the result of poor posture, loss of normal neck mobility and weakness in the muscles of the neck and upper back.  Cluster or migraine headaches may also have components of neck and upper back dysfunction.

Physical therapy will focus on normalizing the soft tissue or mechanical dysfunction that causes/contributes to headaches.  Our goal is to seek out the root cause of your headache/pain.  Your treatment will include:

Musculoskeletal evaluation to assess posture, range of motion, muscle imbalances, joint restrictions, and myofascial tissue restrictions.

Manual therapy techniques to decrease restrictions in soft tissue, spinal joints and the myofascial system.  Our therapists have advanced training in manual therapy techniques specific to headaches.

Therapeutic modalities such as heat, ice, ultrasound, cervical traction and electrical stimulation may be used in the initial course of care.  These will then be replaced by more active forms of care to correct the restrictions found.

Therapeutic exercise will be incorporated into the treatment regimen to address muscle imbalances, loss of mobility, stabilization, and posture.

Workstation assessment will be conducted if you and the therapist feel this may be a contributing factor in your symptoms.  Often small changes in your workstation set-up will allow postural improvement.