Headache pain is a common condition that causes many people to seek medical help or a physical therapy program. The key to successful headache management is to determine the source. Physical therapy for headaches allows individuals to manage their own pain symptoms and minimize the chance of recurrence.
Some headaches do not respond to physical therapy but often a component of each type of headache can be singled out for treatment. Most of the treatment is focused on the muscles and the joints of the neck and head, and treatment is designed to give you control over the pain.
Hands-on approaches are used to free up restrictions in the soft tissue or the spinal joints, and for correcting postural and spinal alignment. This can include spinal and TMJ manipulation.
Maintaining proper posture is important too, because it minimizes the strain that is placed on muscles and ligaments around the spine. Sometimes poor posture is a matter of habit that leads to spinal joint strain and muscle fatigue and headaches. Retraining posture protects the spinal joints and the soft tissues around them.
Treatments that utilize the physical properties of traction, heat, cold, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation are sometimes used for their effects on acute headache pain. These modalities are used to get through the initial painful time and are replaced by more mechanical approaches when the focus shifts to correcting the cause of the head pain.
Used as a teaching tool for posture and movement, biofeedback training can improve the effectiveness of a self-management program for headache pain.