Updated: May 10
Every week, we see several patients in the clinic for treatment of headaches and migraines. People are surprised to know there are ways other than medication to manage persistent, chronic, or intermittent headaches and migraines. But the truth is that due to the fact that there is a strong connection between neck pain, muscle spasm, and/or myofascial tension causing these symptoms, Physical Therapy can be a great way to alleviate even the most pesky headaches and migraines.
Here is a chart demonstrating the connection between trigger points or muscle spasms in a variety of cervical (neck) muscles and the headache pain patterns they may cause:
When you relieve the neck muscle spasms, trigger points, or myofascial tension with manual techniques, modalities, and specific exercises and stretches, you can almost always expect the headaches and head tension to go away in turn, even if you've been suffering for years.
Your best resource for identifying the muscles to blame and finding ways to relieve the tension is your local Physical Therapist. Make sure they are skilled in manual therapy techniques and that their mode of practice allows them the hands-on time to address your underlying muscle tension.
Ergonomics and posture may also be to blame, contributing to your muscle spasms and tension, and your PT can also help you to identify any issues in these areas and correct them. Making sure your work station and car positioning are ideal are sure to help you in the long run.
Other potential sources of headaches may be dehydration or stress, so addressing these issues may also help your symptoms. Make sure to get enough water and if you have a lot of stress in your life, meditation and yoga may be a big help.
The big takeaway of this article should be knowing that if you've been suffering with headaches or migraines, even if it's been many years, you can find substantial (and in many cases, complete relief) with the appropriate Physical Therapy evaluation and treatment. You should not rely on medication or injections in the long-term, as these have negative side-effects to your health and do not address the underlying problem.
If you do not have a local PT resource near you, feel free to schedule a free phone, in-person, or video consultation with us here: https://www.thegreenroomptny.com/events-and-offers
Let us know your thoughts, questions, or experiences in the Comments section below, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
In good health,
Dr. Ashley Bertorelli, Physical Therapist and Founder, The Green Room Physical Therapy
Clifton Park & Troy