You’re just going about your day, and then a throbbing headache hits you. We’ve all been there. Headaches can come on suddenly and throw off your whole day. Your reflex is probably to reach for aspirin. Or, perhaps, simply power through your day despite the pain.
Wondering what else might help? Physical therapy!
Physical therapy can help alleviate pain and prevent headaches from reoccurring. Find out how a physical therapist can treat your headaches.
Common Causes Of Headache
When you’re struggling with a headache, the last thing on your mind is what caused it. No doubt all you want is relief from the pain. However, figuring out what led to it can help you dodge it in the future — and a physical therapist can help with this.
Anything that sets off the pain receptors in your head or neck can cause a headache. Some common headache causes include:
- Physical or emotional stress
- Muscular tension or fatigue
- Jaw, dental, or eye problems
- Hormonal influences
- Certain medications
- Ear, nose, or throat disorders
- Nervous system disorders
- Spine, head, or neck injuries
- Poor posture
- Hangover from alcohol or drug abuse
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Extreme temperatures
- Loud noises or bright lights
- Colds, flu, or sinus infection
- Medical conditions (e.g. arthritis, meningitis)
How Physical Therapy Helps With Headaches
Headaches could ruin your day and set you back on your schedule. Consulting with a physical therapist can help eliminate and manage headaches.
Hands-on treatment to stretch the neck and head muscles can loosen a stiff neck and upper back joints. That, in turn, relieves tension by targeting trigger points that could possibly be causing your headaches. Not only can they reduce the intensity and pain of headaches but also decrease the duration and frequency each time — and perhaps even completely eliminate them.
Here are some ways that physical therapy can help with headaches.
Manual therapy reduces the pain and intensity of headaches. Physical manipulation of muscles and joints, including massage and dry needling, could improve the mobility of your neck and head. That decreases muscle spasms and tension, which greatly contribute to headaches.
Regular massage can also prevent and manage migraines, such as its intensity and frequency. In addition to this, it can also improve muscle performance.
Frozen neck wraps or gel ice packs are applied when a headache occurs. It’s effective in significantly reducing pain. This is an excellent treatment at home when a headache is about to strike. If your headaches are triggered by stress, high blood pressure, or sore muscles, cold therapy can help a lot.
Exercise is integral to decreasing pain and managing headaches. It’s also effective in promoting overall healing. Regular exercise reduces the frequency and intensity of headaches by improving blood flow, flexibility, mobility, and relieving stress. Exercise also improves mood and helps you sleep better. Increased physical activity also improves your range of motion and joint health. In addition to the prescribed exercises, you can get a customized exercise program to do at home.
Aside from guiding you on how to use your body optimally so you can eliminate headaches, a physical therapist can help you improve your posture. Modifying how you sit and stand can reduce pressure on sensitive areas. Examining your home and work areas also helps physical therapists understand contributing factors to your headaches, such as the height of your chair and placement of work objects (e.g. keyboard, mouse pad).
If you want to manage and eliminate headaches long-term, you’ll need to understand what triggers your headaches and how to avoid them. Your physical therapist can help you identify your triggers and alleviate symptoms through various techniques.
When You Should See A Doctor
Most headaches can be treated with physical therapy. However, while most don’t really pose a serious threat, headaches can sometimes be a symptom of a critical condition.
Signs that you should seek immediate care include:
- High fever
- Headache after a head injury
- Confusion or slurred speech
- Sudden, severe, and persistent headaches
- Recurring or worsening headaches
- Fainting or seizures
- Stiff neck
- Eye or ear pain
- Numbness or weakness
- Difficulty moving one side of the body
- Changes in vision (e.g. double vision, blurry vision)
- Increased pain when coughing or sneezing
- Nausea or vomiting
Physical Therapy For Headaches In Birmingham, AL
Everyone has occasional aches and pains, but when your headaches start to ruin your life, it’s time to take action. Physical therapy could be the key to a healthier, pain-free life. It can make your daily life more relaxed and comfortable, free from the torture of headaches!
Here at Iron Standard Physical Therapy, our physical therapists are ready to help you optimize your quality of life and bring state-of-the-art customized concierge physical therapy to patients. Our goal is to get you back to doing the things you love.
If you’re tired of headaches derailing your day and want to schedule an appointment, call us at (770) 789-8380 or request an appointment online. We look forward to serving you!