All headaches are not the same.
I think most people have experienced a headache. However, not everyone appreciates the different causes and treatments for headaches. There are many different types of headaches. Four of the most common types of headaches are cervicogenic (arising due to problems in the neck), tension, migraine, and cluster headaches.
Physical therapists are especially skilled at treating the neck which can really help with cervicogenic headaches that are caused by problems in the neck. Poor posture or the "cell phone hunch" places a lot of stress on the neck. This often results in muscles of the neck being overworked, tired and going into spasm. If your neck is bent forward 45 degrees your head puts almost 50 lbs of stress on your neck. Strengthening your neck, upper back and core muscles can build muscle strength and endurance needed to maintain good posture. Some patients find setting a reminder on their phone or computer that cues them to check in with their posture to be helpful. Manual therapy consisting of soft tissue massage and joint mobilization may also be part of your plan.
Tension headaches are often described as a tight band around the head or face. I've had patients with tension headaches respond well to manual therapy. Stress reduction and progressive relaxation can also be very helpful in managing them. For all headaches (and general well-being) we recommend proper sleep, hydration, avoid smoking and get regular exercise.
If you are dealing with headaches, consider a physical therapy evaluation to help address your symptoms and improve your posture.
Elizabeth Braley, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCSThe Green Room Physical Therapy www.thegrpt.com 518-326-3771 16 N Greenbush Road, Suite 203 Troy, NY 12180