Headaches can happen for a variety of reasons, some benign, others more serious. In times of stress, tension headaches are a commonality among adults.
Short of moving to an island and isolating yourself from the causes of your stress, tension headaches are a problem for almost everyone. According to the World Health Organization, tension-type headaches are the most common primary headache disorder in the world.
“Exercise and counseling are excellent ways to reduce stress,” said Barrett Ford, PT, and founder of Step & Spine Physical Therapy.
These are short term treatments, however. For people who seek long-term headache relief, physical therapists can quickly become your new best friend.
“The cause of tension headaches can run the gamut from stress, poor posture, computer work, and trauma,” said Ford.
This means that stress and musculoskeletal problems in the neck can be the underlying cause of tension headaches. Often described as causing feelings of pressure or tightness that spreads into or from the neck, tension-type headaches affect 80-90 percent of people at least once in their lives.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Tension Headaches
It is the physical therapist’s job to identify any areas of tension or weakness in the neck as well as musculoskeletal problems that may be causing the headaches. Once the source of the pain is identified, treatment begins.
Often, one of the most effective and proven treatments for tension-type headaches is manual therapy. Physical therapists use techniques such as joint mobilization, movement, stretching, and manual traction to unload the spine. Once the spine is relieved of pressure, exercises are incorporated to allow patients to maintain the mobility achieved through physical therapy.
“Posture is another culprit for tension headaches,” said Ford.
Sitting at the computer all day causes us to inappropriately use our muscles, so they become weakened. This weakness creates tension through the upper back and neck leading upwards into the skull.
Physical therapists are specially trained to treat tension headache sufferers and provide long-term solutions to help them remain pain-free. If you are struggling with tension headaches, contact one of our offices in Bend, Eagle Crest, Redmond and Sisters to schedule an evaluation. Through an assessment, our physical therapists can determine the cause of your headaches and how it can be successfully treated through physical therapy.