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Unplugging From Our Devices
Movies Featuring Prominent Women in History
Preventing Tech Neck
What You Need to Know About Shin Splints
Classic Cabbage Rolls
Chronic Headaches? Maybe PT Can Help!
We all experience headaches now and then, and we usually consider them a mild problem, easily handled with over-the-counter medications. But when headaches become chronic, they can upend a person’s life. Perhaps surprisingly, physical therapy can help in many cases. After determining the type of headaches a person is experiencing, a qualified physical therapist can often construct a treatment plan to reduce the pain and improve a patient’s quality of life. Tension headaches are the most common cause of head pain, and many believe they are caused solely by stress or anxiety. But while your emotional state can undoubtedly contribute to the intensity of a headache, your neck muscles are the real culprit. Neck muscles just beneath the base of your skull can spasm when placed under stress by poor posture, osteoarthritis, or injury. The spasms initiate a tugging movement, which causes irritation and leads to a pounding or aching sensation in the head. The amount of stress on the muscles may seem small — like working at a computer or frequently looking down at your cellphone — but it can significantly impact your ability to comfortably complete daily tasks.
Cervicogenic headaches are another common type of headache that originates in the neck, this time in the upper spine. Damage to the spine’s nerves, discs, and joints can cause pain that spreads upwards. While these headaches often start as occasional events, they can become more frequent with time. Since musculoskeletal issues cause these headaches, physical therapy can help relieve the strain. Depending on your specific condition, your physical therapist may work with you to improve your neck mobility, strength, or posture. With better spine alignment, tension and cervicogenic headaches typically become less frequent. Meanwhile, myofascial release therapy can help loosen your muscles to reduce the impact of a headache. Physical therapy cannot treat every type of headache, but it can probably help more than you imagine. For example, physical therapy techniques can help lessen pain during a migraine, and manual therapy may help treat cluster headaches. Your physical therapist will also refer you to another health care provider if physical therapy is insufficient to address the problem. In the end, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying physical therapy — except, perhaps, your chronic head pain.
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