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Peak Physical Therapy
Helping you every step of the way


Happy New Year from all of us at Peak Physical Therapy.  We hope that you had a great Holiday season and we wish you all the best for 2015.

In our January edition of our newsletter we are discussing headaches and how physiotherapy can help.

There are three common types of headaches: tension, migraine and cluster headaches. Among the three types, tension headaches are the most common form and they are often the result of stress, fatigue or altered body mechanics. In addition to tension, fatigue and stress, factors that have been associated with the onset of headaches include prolonged desk work or manual labor, dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits, and even poor posture. If the factors that are triggering headaches are not properly identified and addressed, the headaches may become chronic. In some cases, however, neck, back, and shoulder problems may be contributing to the occurrence of persistent headaches. A constant headache may also be the result of an underlying condition or serious injury.  

The brain itself does not contain the nerves that are responsible for pain sensations - which means the brain tissue itself can’t “hurt”. The actual pain of headaches originates in structures or tissues in the surrounding regions of the brain and, therefore, a headache typically signals an issue in the body that needs to be addressed. Some headaches can easily be treated with over the counter pain relievers (e.g., aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen), but chronic headaches may require a more therapeutic approach, especially if the headaches may be the result of pain referred from the body (e.g., neck jaw, or upper back pain). In such cases, physiotherapy can help individuals address the cause of the headaches, and in doing so, reduce their occurrence.

If an individual is suffering from tension headaches, for example, therapy may involve teaching the person relaxation and coping strategies that can be used when stressful situations arise. If muscles are constantly tense because they are "overworking," another muscle may not "doing its' job"and this may also contribute to the development of the headaches. Treatments in this case involve helping to strengthen the "lazy" muscles and teaching relaxation techniques for the overworked areas.  If it is believed that other  body issues  (e.g., shoulder or back pain) are causing the tension headaches, then the physiotherapy will more than likely focus on relieving muscle tension as well as teaching an individual stretching and strength-training exercises. Once a Physiotherapist feels  an individual has learned how to properly perform the exercises, they can then be incorporated into a home exercise program, or easily done while at work to help give control over the pain. Individuals who continue to engage in their physiotherapy exercises generally experience relief from headaches and body pain. Furthermore, the therapeutic techniques can become a long-term approach to avoiding the headache triggers, stopping a headache if it does start, or reducing its intensity and frequency.

For those with headaches that are caused by spinal problems, manual therapy techniques may prove helpful as well and the Physiotherapists at Peak Physical Therapy are all well trained in various methods to help. Acupuncture has been helpful for many headache patients as well. Your Physiotherapist will help you determine what is the best approach for you. 

If you are experiencing chronic headaches or even neck, jaw (TMJ), shoulder, or back pain that you believe may be associated with the occurrence of your headaches, our trained professionals at Peak Physical Therapy will do a thourough exam to determine the causes, treatments and essential home management programs that will be the best approach for you. Neck and shoulder training, in particular, has been shown to reduce both headaches and body pain. Furthermore, some of the techniques can even be performed at the workplace.

Our Physiotherapists would be happy to assess your current physical state and create a program tailored specifically to your needs and goals. Call Peak Physical Therapy to make an appointment or to ask any questions you may have.

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