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Physical Therapy and Headaches

Most people do not know that physical therapy can help with headaches. Depending on the type of headache and based on a thorough examination physical therapy can significantly improve headaches. It is important to understand the three main types of headaches:

  1. Cervicogenic headaches are headaches related to neck pain caused by the top 3 vertebrae of the spine. Trauma can cause these but typically poor posture for prolonged periods of time will cause these. Professions that require looking down exacerbate the symptoms.

  2. Musculoskeletal headaches are headaches resulting from tension in the neck muscles. Typically they are caused by muscle imbalances and instability causing tension in the neck musculature. Repetitive poor posture or whiplash are common contributors causing the instability. This instability will cause the surrounding muscles to tighten up in order to provide the lacking stability which leads to tension and/or trigger points.

  3. Tension headaches are caused by strain on the dura mater, which can be caused by poor posture or stress. The dura mater lies in close proximity to the small muscles at the base of the head. These muscles go into spasm when the dura mater is strained, sending signals to the brain and causing headaches.

Following a thorough examination to determine what type of headache you have and the contributing factors, physical therapy will significantly reduce the severity of your symptoms. Common treatments include mobilization of the C1-C3 vertebrae, dry needling to hypertonic (tense) muscles, massage and/or cupping to tight muscles, and targeted strengthening in order to provide stability. If you suffer from headaches give PhysioFIt a call in order to set up your examination and allow us to help you get out of pain!!

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