Physical Therapy For Migraine Headaches
Many people believe that orthopedic physical therapy is used to treat only musculoskeletal conditions, but it can also be used to treat and control other ailments such as migraine headaches.
If you struggle with migraine headaches, and the debilitating pain and effects it has on your life, you know how difficult it can be to find relief and manage flare ups. There are various kinds of treatments out there for migraine headaches, and it can be difficult to find the right one for you.
The good news is that physical therapy is a great treatment for all kinds of conditions, and it can also be used as an aid for migraine headaches.
How Physical Therapy Can Help With Migraine Headaches
You may be familiar with physical therapy as a treatment for muscular or joint pain. It can be an effective treatment and form of rehabilitation for joint issues, like arthritis, as well as muscle pain and even other issues like migraines.
Before you can begin physical therapy for migraines, you will need to have your condition medically evaluated. A migraine headache can be an issue in itself, but migraines can also be a symptom of something else, which may impact whether physical therapy is the right step for you.
Once you have been evaluated, you can find a physical therapist to work with you regarding your migraine headaches. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a tailored treatment plan for your needs which will require a combination of work with the therapist as well as working alone repeatedly in conjunction with pharmaceutical interventions.
Physical therapy is a combination of exercises, stretches, and manual manipulation which is used to aid muscular pain and tension. It can be used in all areas across the body, including in and around the head, for migraine treatment.
Therapies For Migraine Headaches
There are various kinds of physical therapies that are available to those who suffer from migraine headaches. Working alongside a professional therapist, as well as repeatedly doing exercises alone, and using pharmaceutical interventions, can create an effective treatment for migraine headaches.
Some of the treatments for migraine headaches that may be taught to you by a physical therapist include:
Several kinds of exercises can be used to control and alleviation migraine headaches. These include cervical retraction, flexion, side bending, and rotation exercises which are designed to improve neck motion as well as reduce pressure on your cervical nerves.
When performing neck exercises for migraines, you will need to move slowly and steadily to prevent further damage. Your physical therapist will guide you through this process and ensure you are working at a slow pace to prevent sudden or jerky movements.
- Postural Correction
This is an effective physical therapy for those whose head position contributes to their migraine headaches. Poor head posture can be a trigger for migraines as it causes the upper cervical spine and sub occipital area to pinch the nerves which travel up your back.
If this is a common trigger for your migraines, your physical therapist will work with you to help correct your posture and therefore reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
You may have to perform slouch-overcorrect exercises, which can help find your optimal posture or use a neck pillow during sleep. Kinesiology taping may also be included in posture work for migraine headaches.
- Heat and Ice
During a migraine attack, applying heat or ice to the head, neck, and temples can offer gentle relief. Both heat and ice are effective at treating inflammation and can decrease pain as they improve circulation.
Applying ice or heat to the neck is recommended before neck stretches as it increases circulation, making the movements easier to perform.
- Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is an effective tool to improve mobility, and it can also decrease nerve irritation which is why it is especially effective for headaches that are caused or exacerbated by tension.
Massage therapy can also improve neck motion, which in turn will also reduce the pressure, which leads to migraine headaches.
Mechanical or manual traction works to decompress the discs and joints within the neck, which can reduce pressure in this area and therefore treat migraine headaches.
- Vestibular Therapy
This is a specialized form of treatment that is designed to alleviate symptoms associated with migraines, such as dizziness or impaired vision.
This therapeutic modality involves specific head, neck, and gaze stabilization exercises that are geared towards improving the functionality of the vestibular system. This is the sensory system that affects your sense of balance and spatial orientation.
- Electrical Stimulation
Your physical therapist may use transcutaneous neuromuscular electrical stimulation (TENS) to decrease pain in your neck muscles which can be a way to treat migraine headaches.
Speak with an Orthopedic Specialist Today
Are you suffering from migraine headaches? Make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists today to start your healing journey. OrthoArizona has nearly two dozen offices throughout the Valley, each focused on quality care, compassion, and excellent customer service. Since 1994, OrthoArizona has been dedicated to compassionate care of the highest quality.
The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and are not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or other educational medical material.