Physical Therapy helps to remedy headaches and give you relief.
Headaches are one of the most common pain complaints in the world, with about half of the global population being affected by this type of pain. There are many different types of headaches, including:
- Cervicogenic (i.e., related to the neck muscles)
- Secondary headaches (i.e., headaches that are symptoms of another diagnosis)
Physical therapy is a highly effective treatment option for headaches—specifically, cervicogenic headaches. These headaches originate in the neck (a.k.a. the cervical spine) and may radiate to the back, top, or side of the head. The pain may develop gradually or suddenly (following a traumatic injury, for example).
People suffering from cervicogenic headaches often experience increased pain when moving the head or neck, and their range of motion when doing so often is impaired. These symptoms tend to worsen when the person is in a static position for an extended period of time—like when sitting in front of a computer or sleeping.
In addition to head and neck pain and muscle tenderness, symptoms of cervicogenic headaches include weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea.
Patients who seek out physical therapy for cervicogenic headaches will first undergo a comprehensive evaluation during which the therapist will assess the severity and possible causes of the pain. Specifically, the therapist will evaluate joint mobility, head and neck range of motion, muscle tightness and weakness, and posture.
The therapist will then use the results of the evaluation to develop a customized care plan. This plan will include both active and passive treatments. Manual therapy techniques may include massage and joint/soft tissue mobilization.
Additionally, the therapist will guide the patient through a variety of exercises designed to strengthen the deep neck flexor muscles, enhance posture, and promote the development of proper movement patterns. Patients should expect to have two to three therapy appointments per week for up to six weeks, depending on the complexity and severity of the case. The patient will also receive a prescribed home exercise program to promote care continuity outside of the clinic. The better the patient adheres to this program, the better—and faster—his or her results.