You know the feeling – the sudden pain that tells you a headache is coming on. It happens to all of us. Stress headaches are typically defined as a “band of pressure” that can be felt around your head, usually accompanied by tenderness of the skull and overall achiness within the head. Sometimes, the pain can be alleviated with over-the-counter medication, such as Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or Advil. However, sometimes stress headaches persist despite pain-management drugs, especially if you are prone to chronic headaches.
Luckily, physical therapy has been known to help alleviate stress-related headaches, in even the most chronic cases. Methods such as manual therapy, posture correction, and relaxation techniques will help relieve your pain and decrease your likelihood of sustaining more headaches in the future. For more information on how we can help you say goodbye to those persistent stress-related headaches, contact our office today!
Strengthening your muscles:
You do a lot of “heavy lifting” throughout the day with your shoulders, back, and neck – even when you are simply carrying out daily tasks. If the muscles in those areas are too weak, they can easily get overworked. Physical therapy work on neck and upper back muscles involves resistance training, in order to build up the muscles.
For many people, stronger upper body muscles also equate to fewer – and less intense – stress-related headaches. Exercises might start with simple chin-to-chest nods to build neck strength, and may become more intensive as your treatment plan progresses. Free weights and resistance bands also help to build up shoulder and back muscles.
Correcting your posture:
It is no secret that the ways in which we stand and sit can greatly influence how much pressure is put on our muscles. Poor posture compresses muscles and nerves, and for many people, these overworked muscles and nerves in the shoulder, chest, and neck area can lead to a triggered tension headache.
Your physical therapist can help evaluate your posture for areas that may need improvement. He or she will also demonstrate the correct way to move, sit, and stand, in order to avoid unwanted compression.
In addition to demonstrating chest, back, and shoulder positions, a physical therapist can also recommend helpful lifestyle changes. Modifications to certain areas in the home and workplace often have a big effect on posture. This might include a telephone headset, a raised computer monitor, a specialized chair, or even a rubber mat to stand on while doing kitchen tasks.
Improving your flexibility:
The more that you’re able to move your neck and shoulders as you move through your day, the less pressure you put on the major muscle groups in those areas. This may also alleviate some of your undesirable stress-related headache symptoms. By participating in physical therapy treatments, you will learn specific moves to stretch your neck, in addition to loosening up your chest, shoulder muscle, and tendon groups. Doing these regularly can help relieve chronic stress headaches.
A hands-on approach to headaches:
There are some headache prevention techniques that are simple enough to do at home. However, a physical therapist can provide a much more targeted approach to treating the symptoms of a headache. For example, alternating between ice and heat therapies is a simple but effective strategy. The specialized compresses and gentle electronic pulse wands provide soothing relief, in addition to easing muscle strain.
Manual therapy also includes massage for stress-related headache treatment, because the soft tissue mobilization relaxes tense muscles. Because of this effect, massage can provide immediate pain relief and can even prevent future headaches. PT massage treatments help to relax the muscles in your jaw, temples, neck, and shoulders, in order to lessen your symptoms.
In addition, patients with chronic tension headaches report decreased incidents of head pain when undergoing regular massage therapy. It is believed that relaxing the muscles in and around the head helps in preventing the contractions that result in pain.
Physical therapy massage also helps ease the emotional stress that causes you to tense those trigger muscles. People who get regular therapeutic massages also report getting better rest, which leads to less stress during the day, and therefore a lowered likelihood of sustaining a stress-related headache.
Are your stress-related headaches limiting your life? If so, schedule a consultation with us today. Our dedicated physical therapists will create a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs, in order to help you relax, sleep better, and fight off those debilitating headaches. We can help decrease the frequency and severity of your chronic headaches, and in many cases, our methods have even relieved them altogether. If you are ready to say goodbye to your headaches, contact us today!