Understanding Headaches

How to take back control of your health and reduce or eliminate your need for medication.

What Is A Headache?

Headaches are a very common condition that most people will experience many times during their lives. The main symptom of a headache is a pain in your head or face. This can be throbbing, constant, sharp or dull. Headache pain results from signals interacting among the brain, blood vessels and surrounding nerves.

Headache symptoms vary based on the type of headache you have. While there are over 150 different classifications of headaches, some of the most common headache symptoms include:

  • Pressure in the face
  • Increased discomfort with movement
  • Throbbing or pounding in the head
  • Pain in the forehead or nose
  • Crankiness
  • Difficulty concentrating

Because there is still much to be discovered in the world of headaches it is important to do two things:

First – the most conservative treatments should always come first

Second – all sources of pain should be evaluated in order to guide the proper treatment

Why Does The Current Approach Fail?

It is important to understand that there is significant overlap in the symptoms of a neck related headache and a migraine.

This means: it is very difficult to accurately diagnose a migraine.

When a patient presents with a headaches or migraines the initial diagnosis will be based off of that patient’s symptoms. This means that in general there is no X-ray, MRI or CT-scan that is going to come back with any findings that explain your pain.

This can be a very frustrating process as many patients never find a straight answer as to where their pain is coming from.

The typical treatment approach involves a series of medications that promise to reduce the frequency or intensity of your pain. Many of these medications are costly and/or come with side-effects that make them unreasonable to use for extended periods of time, although many don’t feel they have a choice.

As stated initially, there is a high level of confusion when attempting to making a proper diagnosis for headaches and migraines.

Believe it or not: headaches, dizziness, jaw pain, nausea, light/sound sensitivities and visual disturbances all come about because of restrictions in the neck.

What kind of treatment do we provide?

In our clinic, we are doctors of physical therapy. We provide full examinations of the body’s movement, but for headache and migraine patients we look more specifically at the neck. We then evaluate where your pain is coming from, or to put it another way, we discover “which tissue is the issue.” We want to educate you on each structure, i.e the joint, muscle, connective tissue, or nerve, what their role is, and which ones are contributing most to your pain.

We provide hands on treatment, meaning joint mobilizations, to improve movement and treat trigger points in the muscles. We can also provide dry needling to those trigger points, if needed. These treatments take stress off of the nerves that are ultimately sending pain signals to your brain, causing your headache and migraine symptoms. We can then guide you through specific exercises that you do on your own to maintain the movement improvements made during each session. We do not provide medications or Botox, and many of our patients wean off of their medication entirely.

Here’s a helpful Free PDF

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