If you suffer from chronic headaches, it is important to see a doctor. You want to rule out serious conditions such as brain tumors and infection. Once those causes are ruled out, you can look towards lifestyle remedies and other ways to manage the pain and reduce the frequency of your headaches. Along those lines, seeing a physical therapist can be surprisingly helpful. Here are some of the ways a physical therapist may help you manage your headaches.
Stretches to Keep Your Neck Loose
A stiff neck is a common contributor to headaches. If the muscles in your neck are stiff and tense, this can put pressure on certain nerves that run into your head, leading to a headache. Your physical therapist can teach you some stretches to keep your neck loose. You can perform these stretches several times a day or whenever you start to feel your neck getting stiff. These exercises are especially important if you work at a desk, as sitting at a desk all day can quickly lead to a stiff neck.
TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. It's a treatment that has become popular among physical therapists over the years. Basically, your physical therapist will attach two electrodes to your skin. For the management of headaches, these are usually placed at the base of your skull or at your temples. The electrodes will deliver low-powered electrical impulses that will cause your muscles to contract and relax. This will feel a bit strange, but once it is over, you'll have relief from the muscle tension that so often leads to headaches. Some physical therapists may also prescribe you a TENS device to bring home and use on your own time.
Exercises to Improve Posture
Poor posture is a common contributor to headaches. You probably know you should be sitting up and back with your shoulders square, but if you're not used to sitting this way, you may not have the strength to do so. Your physical therapist can guide you through some exercises to strengthen your back and core so you'll have an easier time maintaining good posture throughout the day. This will decrease the tension in your neck and skull, helping to prevent headaches.
While a physical therapist may not be the first practitioner you think of seeing about headaches, the services they offer can be really helpful. Reach out to a physical therapist to learn more about how physical therapy can help you.