Physical Therapy for Headaches
Updated: Jun 7
Almost everyone has had a headache at some point in their life. They typically are annoying, but go away in a day or with some over-the-counter medication. If you’re a person that deals with chronic or severe headaches, then you know how much they can affect your day and life. Headaches can affect your ability to concentrate at work, enjoy time with friends or family, or even just get out of bed if they are severe enough. Often, medication is used to control the pain but that is usually a short term solution and may not completely resolve the pain.
You might not think of physical therapy as an answer to your headaches. The good news is that physical therapy can often give both immediate and long term relief to headaches! We have even had people come in to see us and say they got more relief in one visit than even the best medication they take! First we’ll talk about different types of headaches, and then we’ll cover how physical therapy can be your answer:
Types of Headaches
There are over one hundred different types of headaches. The most common types are:
Tension headaches (most common)
Post traumatic (post concussion) headaches
All of these types of headaches have different symptoms and locations of pain. But, the most common areas of pain for headaches are the front of the head or your forehead, the sides of the head or your temple, or the back of your head at your hairline.
The bolded types are the headaches that are most easily helped with physical therapy. This is because there is often a muscular, posture, or neck problem that causes or makes your headache worse that therapy can help with.
How Can Physical Therapy Help Headaches?
While you may think of your headaches as inside your head, most of the time there is another problem that is a part of your pain. For example, tension headaches can be caused by stress, but often the pain is actually caused from how much tension is in your neck muscles. Or, in people that we have helped who have had migraines, we have been able to decrease how much pain or how often the headaches happen by addressing a neck problem. So, even if you know that your headache is caused by something out of your control, there is usually an answer to at least make your pain more manageable.
What physical therapy can do is evaluate your headache and find out if there is a muscular, flexibility, posture, or some other problem that’s making the pain worse. Then, we are able to use manual therapy, exercise, or some other tool to fix that problem.
Finding an answer to your headache, having the right treatment, and getting control over your pain means you get to get back to work without being distracted, or enjoying your time with your kids more, or just being in a better mood.
Are you dealing with headaches and not sure if physical therapy can help? We can help answer that! Our physical therapists are always available for a free consultation to find out if we can help. Contact us here