Tension headaches, also known as stress headaches, are the most common type of headache that people experience. Tension headaches, while not as severe as migraines, are a sign that something in your body is “off.”
If you’re experiencing frequent stress-related headaches that are interfering with your daily life, it’s time to consider physical therapy as a treatment option.
A physical therapist can help you figure out what’s causing your stress headaches and get rid of them for good. Call Good Hands Physical Therapy today to schedule a consultation with one of our staff members to learn more about the benefits of physical therapy for headaches!
Causes of tension headaches
Headaches have a nasty habit of showing up at the most inconvenient times. They can strike in the middle of the workday, early in the evening when you’re trying to run errands or prepare dinner, or even first thing in the morning when you’re trying to focus on your morning meeting.
One of the most common causes of stress-related headaches is stress, which is right there in the name. When the muscles in the neck or scalp tense up and contract, it causes a headache.
Depression and anxiety are two emotions that are similar to stress and can cause headaches. Furthermore, your stress-related headaches could have a physical cause. Headaches can be caused by an accident or injury to the neck or back. Two other possible causes are poor posture and arthritis.
How can a physical therapist help diagnose and treat your headache pain?
Your therapist will work with you to diagnose your headaches before beginning physical therapy treatments.
The therapist will need to know about your medical history. If you had a neck, back, or jaw injury years ago, it’s possible that it’s still causing headaches today.
The location of your pain, such as your face, back of your neck, or forehead, can also aid in determining the source.
During the diagnosis phase, your physical therapist will most likely administer some tests to you. Your posture, for example, will be assessed as you participate in a variety of activities. The range of motion in your neck and shoulders, as well as the strength of your muscles, will be tested.
Your therapist may elect to perform manual therapy techniques as well to see how mobile your neck joints are. Once the cause of your stress-related headaches is determined, a customized course of physical therapy can be prescribed to treat them.
How can physical therapy improve headache pain?
The ultimate goal of your physical therapy regimen will be to eliminate your stress-related headaches. However, in addition to relief, you will gain additional benefits that will likely improve your overall quality of life:
- Improved Strength: Your therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen your neck and upper back, which will lead to improved posture. With better posture, you will be able to stand and sit longer without experiencing discomfort.
- Reduced Neck Tension: Thanks to manual physical therapy techniques applied to the muscles in your neck, you will have a better range of motion in your neck and reduced tension as well.
- Better Posture: One of the most common causes of stress-related headaches is poor posture. If you don’t maintain good posture throughout the day, you’re more likely to experience generalized aches and pains, as well as muscle tension, which can lead to stress headaches.
According to the APTA, “not only is physical therapy cheaper than injections or surgery in the short-term, but it’s also an approach that is likely to save on treatment costs for at least a year after the initial diagnosis, with average savings of 18% over treatments that begin with injections and 50% over treatments that begin with surgery.”
Physical therapy techniques for headache pain
The diagnosis will play a role in the treatment of your stress-related headaches. If your headaches are the result of a previous injury, for example, one course of treatment that would work for correcting your posture and strengthening your neck muscles might not be appropriate. Stretching and strength training is likely to be part of your treatment plan.
Other treatment methods and options that your physical therapist might choose for your condition can include:
- Body mobilization
- Cervical traction
- McKenzie therapies
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Hot and cold compressions
Your therapist will recommend exercises, stretches, and lifestyle changes that you can do at home in addition to your physical therapy sessions at the clinic, all of which will help you get rid of your headaches.
Ready to be done with headache pain?
You don’t need to live your life in pain when there are so many other options available to you. What are you waiting for? Stress-related headaches can be a thing of the past for you, after working with a physical therapist to correct the problem. Contact Bridle Trails Physical Therapy today to schedule your first appointment.
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