How Physical Therapy Can Help Relieve Your Headaches

Aug 19, 2015

Nickolas Griffith

by Nickolas Griffith
PT, DPT | North Phoenix Location

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy is a group of locally owned Phoenix physical therapy clinics. We provide comprehensive care for any complaints you may have, and our staff will create an individualized plan that best responds to your needs. To schedule a free assessment with us, go online here today. For more information about Phoenix physical therapy, follow our blog!
Nickolas Griffith received his doctorate in Physical Therapy from Loma Linda University, and has been a dedicated and passionate PT since. He is here to explain the hidden cause behind many headaches, and how physical therapy could help you become pain free.
Headaches are a common source of pain for many people, yet they are often overlooked. You might think of it as a natural occurrence at the end of a long day that can be cured with some ibuprofen— but that does not solve the real problem. While there are many reasons a person may develop a headache, a common source is actually related to stress, tension, and possible dysfunctions in the muscles in your neck. Due to increased tightness and abnormal workload in the muscles that support your neck and head, pain is referred up into the head and perceived as a headache. These are referred to as cervicogenic headaches (the term cervical referring to the neck region, and genic meaning “originates from”).
There are many possible causes of a cervicogenic headache, including poor posture while sitting at a desk all day, straining your neck during daily activities, or from traumatic whiplash, which can occur in an automobile accident. These headaches can cause occasional and mild disturbances, or they can cause severe daily problems that can have a real impact on your quality of life.
It is important to understand the causes of your headache, so you can figure out what can be done to fix it. The therapists at Foothills Sports Medicine can assess each individual situation, find the cause of your problem, and help you become pain free. In a world where medications are quickly handed out to cover up symptoms without treating the cause of the problem, it is encouraging to know there is a more comprehensive approach to relieving your headaches.
The goals we create for you upon starting physical therapy will be both short-term and long-term. Our short-term goals may start with relieving headache pain by decreasing tightness using modalities (heat/ice), soft tissue massage, and other techniques to relax the muscles causing pain headaches. In the long-term, postural strengthening and awareness is key to not only resolving today’s headache, but to avoiding tension and preventing headaches in the future.
A few of the manual treatments that we utilize here at Foothills Sports Medicine are soft tissue mobilization, segmental joint mobilization, functional trigger-point dry needling, manual stretching, and specialized techniques meant to target the dysfunctional musculature. Combining these manual techniques with an exercise program that targets back muscles for postural strengthening, as well as stretching the cervical musculature, creates a recipe to permanently resolve your headaches. While the manual treatment helps normalize the soft tissue restrictions in your neck, it is the at-home exercise program that creates long-term success.
The next time you are experiencing a headache you cannot quite escape, consider seeking physical therapy rather than accepting pain as “normal.” Foothills has 21 physical therapy clinics across the Valley, so feel free to contact us so we can begin to help you achieve a pain-free life.

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