Headaches. The word is so simple, but the causes can be nearly endless. Headaches can be caused from simple things such as lack of sleep, poor eating habits, dehydration, or stress. Migraines can be triggered by lights or sounds. Tension headaches can be caused by tight muscles through the neck and shoulders. In very rare instances a headache can be caused by more serious conditions. The difficult part is determining the type of headache and how to relieve the pain.
Tension headaches are pretty easy to treat. They are caused by tightness in neck muscles, including the upper trap, SCM, or scalenes. They can also be caused by tightness through the jaw muscles and muscles at the base of the skull. The leading cause of the tightness is stress and poor posture. Which leads to muscle imbalances. Through an individualized treatment program consisting of manual therapy, stretches, and strengthening exercises, tension headaches can be reduced with physical therapy.
Migraine headaches are often one-sided, and cause intense pain with or without warning signs. Migraines can last for hours up to days. They may be caused by a trigger, such as lights or sounds, but also can happen with no trigger. Migraines can be treated in PT, but are often treated as a team approach. A team of MDs and PTs are the best treatment options to determine the cause and help prevent future episodes.
Sinus headaches are caused due to pressure in the sinuses due to fluid build up. They can be caused by allergies or acute infection. Pressure is often felt above and/or below the eyes. An Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist is usually the best person to treat sinus headaches.
One way to help medical professionals determine what type and the cause of headaches is to keep a headache log/diary. Record when the headache occurred, what you were doing prior, food and water intake. In the smart phone age there are many free apps that can also help track this information. One example is Migraine Buddy. It asks questions about possible triggers, duration, and frequency to help determine patterns. Overall, great ways to help prevent headaches is to stay hydrated, eat a balance diet, minimize stress, and stay active to maintain proper nutrition and overall health.
This is just a brief overview of a few types of headaches. There are many other types and causes. If you are interested in more information about headaches or are suffering from headaches of your own give us a call at 1-888-THERAPY for more information.
Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Isanti Physical Therapy Consultants
PTC_therapy December 12th, 2018
Posted In: General