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HEADACHES

WHAT ARE HEADACHES?

Headaches are one of the most frequent complaints in many medical offices. Did you know that there are different types of these headaches? We classify headaches into tension type, cervicogenic (specifically the upper neck), and migraine.

CAUSES OF HEADACHES

There are various causes of headaches. Depending on the form of headache, there may be a different origin. Each of those possibilities is outlined below.

TYPES OF HEADACHES

Tension

A person may describe their symptoms as tenderness, pressure, a dull ache, or tightness in the head or face. It can be experienced on both sides of the head. These are usually episodic and may last from a few minutes to weeks. The cause of a tension headache is the most common type of headache. However, the cause is not well defined. There can be an association with stress, postural issues, injury or anxiety.

Cervicogenic (neck)

Although symptoms may be felt in the face or/and head, they are referred from the upper neck. Cervicogenic headaches are typically one sided and can be aggravated by postural issues or certain neck motions. The cause of this form of headache may be related to muscular or joint issues. Symptom onset may be related to injuries to the neck or whiplash.

Migraine

Migraines are a severe form of headaches, often associated with pain (usually one sided) nausea, vomiting, with sensitivities to light, sounds, or smells. If you experience a migraine, it may last for hours or even days. Symptoms can also include auras. This is where a person may experience a temporary ramping of various visual phenomena (often flashing or bright spots). A migraine can be triggered by multiple factors, such as hormonal changes, poor sleep, caffeine, alcohol, stress, other strong sensations, smells or lights.

HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP?

There are many approaches to dealing with headaches, which could include pharmacological prescriptions, chiropractic care, acupuncture or physical therapy. Our expert physical therapists have many years in various forms of treatment styles for headaches. It is most important to begin with finding out the cause of your symptoms. We will work with you to establish the most likely cause and optimal treatment plan. Treatment may include exercises to address posture and muscular imbalances. Manual treatment is often utilized for symptom relief, such as manipulation and/ or mobilization of the spine or even dry needling. To better understand the nature of your trigger, you may benefit from journaling the specifics of your symptoms: environment, diet, sleep and other factors. A focus on breathing, mindfulness, relaxation techniques has also been shown to be helpful.