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Living With Chronic Headaches? Physical Therapy Can Provide Relief.

Living With Chronic Headaches? Physical Therapy Can Provide Relief.

There is nothing worse than having the feeling someone (or something) is squeezing your head, really, really hard! We’ve all been there, and it’s miserable, to say the least.

Whether the pain starts in your neck, the back of your head, or front and center behind your eyes, stress headaches can seriously throw your day off the rails. While reducing your stress level can often reduce your stress-related headaches, getting rid of the pressure you are under is not always practical or simple.

Wondering what else might help? Physical therapy!

Contact North Park Medical today and find out how a physical therapist just may be the key to getting rid of stress-related headaches once and for all.

What is a stress-related headache?

Headaches, or tension headaches as they’re also known to be called, feel like a painful ache or pressure on your neck or head.

This type of headache is the most common type of headache in adults, lasting from 30 minutes to a day or more. Tension headaches often begin in the middle of the day and can spread over the back of your head as the day progresses.

Sometimes these kinds of headaches will go away with an over-the-counter medication, however, if you’re experiencing this kind of pain daily, depending on medicine is not the best or safest option for your condition.

Our sedentary lifestyle is partly to blame for tension headaches. According to one study by the Centers for Disease Control, one in four Americans spends more than 8 hours a day sitting down. With more and more work happening at computer terminals, many of these hours are spent using poor posture as we slump over a computer screen and keyboard.

Of course, the natural solution has been ergonomically designed workstations that place your entire body into a proper place before beginning work, but the amount of time we spend sitting down during the day often contributes to the amount of stress-related headaches the typical person experiences.

Causes of stress-related headaches

While most headaches do not have a definitive cause, stress-related headaches are often triggered by either a singular stressful event or a buildup of tension throughout the day. That is why they tend to happen at mid-day, when stress buildup has already occurred.

This means that the problem is not the stressful event itself, but rather the way our body is positioned as we experience it. Poor posture, drawing your shoulders toward your ears, tense muscles in your back and neck, and fatigue can all contribute to the poor body positioning that often causes stress headaches.

Other contributing factors to stress-related headaches include:

  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Caffeine (drinking too much or having withdrawal)
  • Colds, the flu, or a sinus infection
  • Eyestrain
  • Jaw clenching or teeth grinding
  • Excessive smoking
  • Fatigue

How physical therapy can help decrease stress-related headaches

If you experience more than 15 stress-related headaches per month, your condition is considered chronic. You may have been taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for your tension headaches pain, but this is not a long-term fix. Physical therapy can address the underlying structural cause of your pain.

It may seem strange at first to see a physical therapist about a particular condition without having a surgical recovery plan. However, physical therapy addresses all movement and posture problems, not just those that happen after surgery.

To begin, at your first appointment your physical therapist will evaluate your posture, body strength, and movement. They may also ask you to describe your workstation to see if poor posture throughout the day is contributing to your headaches.

Next, they will prescribe a series of stretches and targeted exercises for you to do throughout the day to give your body a chance to reset its position, and cut back on the number of tension headaches you develop. Finally, they may give you a series of strengthening exercises to do on your own to strengthen the muscles in your stomach, back, shoulders, and hips so you can hold your body properly as you work.

Your therapist will also teach you how to perform pain-relieving techniques to do on your own whenever you experience tension headaches. These may include ice, heat, massage, stretching, or specific movements.

It’s important to note that even though you are the patient, you are not alone with your treatment! Your physical therapist will be beside you every step of the way to help guide you as you figure out what causes your headaches and what makes the pain subside. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your therapist with questions or concerns about your treatment.

Looking for relief? You’ve found it.

If you are tired of stress-related headaches derailing your day, call our office to make an appointment with our physical therapist. You’ll be surprised by what a difference physical therapy can make in the life of a person dealing with this kind of pain! Contact North Park Medical today and one of our skilled physical therapists will be happy to evaluate your condition and create a comprehensive, customized treatment plan for your pain relief.

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