If you suffer from headaches, you are not alone. Approximately 80-90% of people across the U.S. endure occasional or frequent tension headaches. They are also the third most commonly reported source of pain across the world! Whether they are acute and temporary or constant and chronic (such as migraines), headaches can all be treated by physical therapy.
A greater majority of headaches are attributed to cervicogenic headaches, meaning that they are related to the neck in some form. Poor posture, stress, and other factors can contribute to weakness, strain, and injury to the neck muscles and joints. This pain radiates up into the scalp, side of the head, and even the forehead, depending on the area of the neck involved.
Physical therapy isn’t normally someones first thought when they have a headache - most of the time, the common reaction is to take some form of pain-relieving medication. This may help to relieve pain in the short-term, but if you are constantly suffering from headaches or migraines, pain relief drugs will not provide you with the same long-term effects that physical therapy will.
What are the different types of headaches?
Many people may not know this, but there are actually different types of headaches that all develop from different causes. The three main types of headaches include:
- Tension headaches. The most common form of headaches are known as tension headaches. These can occur due to repetitive motions or poor posture in the neck/head. Tension headaches are caused by a strain on the “dura mater,” which is a sensitive membrane that envelops the brain. The dura mater lies in close proximity to small muscles at the base of the skull that go into spasm when the dura mater becomes strained, thus sending pain signals to the brain and causing your headache.
- Musculoskeletal headaches. Musculoskeletal headaches occur when there are significant amounts of tension in the neck. This is typically a result of physical imbalances, weaknesses, or damage, although emotional tension (such as stress) can also be a contributing factor. A traumatic injury to the neck, such as whiplash, is a common cause of musculoskeletal headaches. With neck injuries such as whiplash, the muscles and connective tissues in the neck can become torn or strained. This can lead to agonizing pain felt in the head, as well as in the face, shoulders, or neck.
- Cervicogenic headaches. Cervicogenic headaches are also related to neck pain, involving the top three vertebrae of the neck. These headaches can develop as a result of certain conditions, such as a concussion or arthritis, but work-related strain can also trigger a cervicogenic headache. Professions that require a down-turned motion of the head or neck are the most prone for developing cervicogenic headaches. This may include hairdressers, long-haul drivers, chefs, nail artists, jewelers, etc.
Find relief for your headaches through physical therapy:
If you are suffering from headaches, contact our Kirkland, WA physical therapy office today. At Washington Physical Therapy, we are dedicated to providing you with the best treatments for your headaches. At your initial appointment, one of our highly trained physical therapists will conduct a physical evaluation and ask you questions about your health history and symptoms, in order to determine what type of headache you are experiencing and where the pain is stemming from. A treatment plan will then be designed specifically for you and your recovery.
At Washington Physical Therapy, our treatments for headaches focus on relieving pain, improving posture and strengthening muscles in the neck and upper back. These will all help in making your daily life much more comfortable and bearable - without the pain of headaches! To schedule your appointment, contact us today to speak to one of our Kirkland, WA physical therapists