Headaches are one of the most common reasons that people see their primary care physician and they account for 20% of outpatient visits to neurologists. People with chronic (or persistent) headaches report disabling symptoms that interfere with daily activities. Many seek numerous different treatment approaches, only to accept these headaches as a fact of life, and have become dependent on medications to relieve their symptoms.
The International Headache Society has classified hundreds of different types of headaches into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Primary headaches include migraine, tension-type and cluster headaches. They are the most common type of headache and stem from a single cause. Secondary headaches are classified according to their causes, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders and cervicogenic headaches, which are attributed to mechanical disorders of the neck. Both types of headaches are treated by various clinicians including osteopaths, dentists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists.
Sources of headaches are often a combination of factors, including musculoskeletal, psychological, neurovascular, nutritional, and chemical imbalances in the brain. Some headaches relate to or are indicative of a disease process; some are life-threatening and others benign. Thus, a thorough medical evaluation is necessary with any onset of a new or ongoing headache.
A thorough physical therapy examination attempts to determine the type of headache and to define the neuromusculoskeletal factors contributing to it. Muscle tension, joint dysfunction of the neck and jaw, poor posture and stress are factors that can be addressed and treated by a skilled physical therapist trained in manual therapy.
If you suffer from headaches and are looking for a way to manage them beyond medication, e-mail us at LetsTalk@PTCentral.org and a Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist will answer any questions you may have related to treatment options. If you would like to schedule an evaluation at any one of our facilities, click here.