Did you know? Headaches are the third most common pain complaint throughout the world. They are debilitating and can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. Furthermore, this includes the widely common stress-related headaches.
Farmingdale Physical Therapy West has some tips on identifying and preventing stress-related headaches. By working with a trained physical therapist, you can experience immediate pain relief. In this guide, we’ll outline the different types of headaches and their causes. Most importantly, we will explain how physical therapy can help.
10 Common Types of Headaches
Basically, any pain that occurs in the head is called a headache. And, many resolve on their own and don’t need intervention. However, severe headaches that recur frequently and interfere with the quality of life often demand further evaluation.
The challenge lies in identifying which type of headache you’re experiencing, and then applying the right treatment. A physical therapist can diagnose your headache and effective develop pain relief strategies.
- Stress (tension) headaches
- Post-traumatic headaches
- Cluster headaches
- Hormone headaches
- Caffeine headaches
- Migraine or sinus headaches
- Exertion headaches
- Rebound headaches
- Hypertension headaches
What Are Stress-Related Headaches?
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache in adults and older teens. Often, they are the result of poor posture, increased stress, neck or jaw problems, or arthritis. Furthermore, it’s possible to experience them when feeling anxious, depressed or stressed. They occur when the neck and scalp muscle contract or become tense.
Generally, stress-related headaches start at the back of the head and progress to the top of the head and eyes. Sometimes, facial pain along the jaw and cheeks accompanies the headache. They have been described as wearing a tight hat, having hair pulled, or a squeezing of the head from the ears inward.
How Can a Physical Therapist Help with Headaches?
First, your physical therapist will evaluate your health history. Then, they conduct a physical examination; including a series of questions to determine the type of headache you’re experiencing. This helps determine the best route for natural pain relief.
During your first visit, you can expect some of the following:
- Tests of your muscle strength and sensation
- Questions regarding previous injuries to your neck, head, jaw, and back
- Inquiries about the location and types of pain and other symptoms experienced
- Measurements regarding the range of motion of your shoulders, neck and other relevant parts of the body
- Manual therapy to ascertain the mobility of joints and muscles in your neck
- Examination of your posture while engaged in different activities
If your physical therapist determines that you’re dealing with stress-related headaches, you’ll work together to develop the right plan. However, if the evaluation determines a different type of headache, your physical therapist will likely refer you to a different type of health care professional.
Goals of Physical Therapy
While the end goal of physical therapy is pain relief, there are some important steps along the way that your physical therapist will help you address the underlying issue.
Some of These Include:
- Improvement of your posture: Your posture throughout the day greatly impacts your level of pain and the likelihood of stress-related headaches. Your physical therapist will teach you methods of improving your posture for a greater quality of life.
- Improvement of neck movement: Using manual therapy, your physical therapist will stretch the muscles in the back of your neck to relieve pain and increase movement.
- Improvement of strength: You’ll learn exercises to help strengthen the muscles that control your upper back and neck so that your posture improves. Most importantly, this will help you to endure standing and sitting for longer periods without discomfort.
Headache Relief Methods from Farmingdale Physical Therapy West
In conclusion, being treated by a physical therapist can bring you relief from headaches! While each treatment meets the needs of individuals, most physical therapists use similar methods. These range from soft tissue mobilization, heat/ice compressions, muscular releases, cervical traction, muscle energy techniques, and McKenzie-based diagnosis and therapy of the spine.
Additionally, you can expect to receive an education for at-home PT to supplement your treatment.