You’re sitting at your desk with a long list of things on your to-do list, and then it hits you: a searing headache. We’ve all been there. It can come on suddenly and throw your entire day off.
Frequent headaches are the most common form of pain in the U.S., reports the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Nine out of ten adults will experience a headache, and for millions of people, headaches may occur several times per week. Instead of suffering through the pain or reaching straight for the aspirin, you should know more about your condition and how physical therapy can help.
What is a tension headache?
Tension headaches are the most common forms of headaches. They can occur due to repetitive motions or poor posture in the neck/head. Tension headaches happen because of a strain on the “dura mater,” which is a sensitive membrane around the brain.
The dura mater lies close to small muscles at the base of the skull that goes into spasm when the dura mater becomes strained, thus sending pain signals to the brain and causing your headache.
If you are suffering from headaches and looking for long-term relief, contact St. Luke’s Physical Therapy today. We are dedicated to providing you with the best treatments for your headaches.
Common causes of headaches
Tension headaches are the most common form of headache. Usually, the pain associated with them is mild to moderate in severity, and they occur infrequently. However, some people may experience severe tension headaches three or four times per week which can seriously lower their quality of life.
When a person experiences this kind of headache, the shoulders and neck may ache. The most common causes of these headaches are tiredness and fatigue, muscle and joint pain, emotional stress, or injury.
The Mayo Clinic states that chronic daily headaches are diagnosed when headaches occur 15 or more days a month for a period that exceeds three months. Depending on the presence of underlying health conditions, these scenarios may include both tension headaches and migraines. For those with migraines, causes range from hypertension (high blood pressure) to severe medical problems. Fortunately, the majority are tension headaches, not migraines!
Over-the-counter medication can help to relieve pain in the short-term, but if you are constantly suffering from headaches or migraines, these kinds of drugs will not provide you with the same long-term effects that physical therapy will.
How can physical therapy relieve headaches?
Headaches have the potential to destroy your plans for the day and interfere with your ability to accomplish tasks. Visiting a physical therapist is an excellent alternative to traditional medication management of headaches.
According to Move Forward PT, physical therapy has been extensively studied and proven to decrease intensity, frequency, and duration of headaches.
Physical therapy can accomplish this in many ways, including the following:
- Enhancing amounts of exercise. This has been shown to decrease pain and inflammation, as well as promote overall healing. Ultimately, more activity amounts to improved range of motion as well as joint health.
- Providing education. Physical therapists want their patients to understand the triggers that contribute to their headaches, such as poor posture, eye strain, and even sleeping in the wrong position. This way patients can try to prevent as many painful headaches as possible. This is the best defense against the return of headaches after having treatment.
- Joint manipulation. Physical manipulation of the joints and muscles can improve the mobility of the head and neck. As a result, muscle tension and spasms decrease, reducing their risk of contributing to a headache.
At your first physical therapy appointment, one of our physical therapists will conduct a thorough assessment of your body, and ask you questions about your pain symptoms and headaches, as well as ask about your medical history, to determine what type of headache you are experiencing and where the root cause of the pain is located.
A treatment plan will then be designed specifically for you and your recovery. Our therapists here know that no two patients are alike, and neither are their symptoms. Rest assured that your treatment plan will be created especially for you, customized with the best exercises and modalities for your specific condition.
Call our physical therapy office for relief
Statistically speaking, people who do not experience headaches at least once in their life are anomalies, but the frequency of headaches can become so severe that they interfere with basic daily function. It’s one thing to have occasional aches and pains, it’s another for those aches and pains to run your entire life!
Ultimately, any frequency of headaches that interferes with your responsibilities and recreational activities is a problem. Fortunately, physical therapy can help. Contact St. Luke’s Physical Therapy today and request a consultation with one of our skilled physical therapists.