Headaches can come along at a moment’s notice and ruin your day, so it’s important to learn some ways to prevent and treat the condition. Many people rely on passive treatments like lying down in bed or reaching for over-the-counter medications, and while they can help to provide relief, we also know that active treatments can sometimes be much more successful at getting rid of a headache.
Headaches can manifest in many different forms, but one of the most common types of headaches is the stress headache. Below, we take a closer look at stress headaches and explain how physical therapy can help treat them.
What Causes Stress Headaches?
Stress headaches can feel like a dull ache or excess pressure in your forehead or neck, and they often come in waves of varying intensity. You might have a flare up in the middle of your work day or without warning when you’re sitting at the dinner table. These headaches tend to be triggered by a stressful event or the accumulation of stress over the course of the day. Now, the stress isn’t the actual cause of the headache, it’s how your body knowingly and unknowingly responds to this stress that triggers the headache.
You might not realize it, but stress can be quite physically exhausting on your body. It can cause muscle fatigue in the form of poor slumped posture, or it can negatively impact your sleep quality. This muscle stress or lack of quality sleep can trigger stress headaches. Many people don’t even realize the physical toll that stress is causing on their body because they are so mentally focused on the stressful event.
However, because stress headaches are often triggered by the physical effects of stress, it makes sense that a physical treatment could help provide relief, and that’s where physical therapy comes in. Obviously there are treatment options that help relieve stress headaches by working to reduce stress in your life, but let’s be honest – it’s impossible to completely eliminate stress from your life. If you’re juggling a job, a family life and a social life, things are going to get stressful no matter how much you try to simplify your life. So while stress reduction is important, it’s also key to be able to manage the physical side of stress.
Physical Therapy For Stress Headaches
Physical therapy can be the perfect solution for certain types of stress headaches. We’ll begin with a baseline assessment to learn more about your headaches, their symptoms and frequency, and how you’ve tried treating them in the past. We’ll then work to uncover the underlying structural components of your stress headaches. Depending on where and when your headache develops, we may be able to pinpoint the cause to a posture problem in your neck or muscle tension in your jaw.
From there, we’ll set you up with a series of stretching or exercise techniques to help adjust your posture or the underlying cause of your headache. Performed regularly, these PT techniques can typically help to decrease stress headache frequency and intensity by strengthening key muscle groups and changing posture patterns to avoid overstressing certain areas. Not only are they preventative in nature, but we can also set you up with therapy techniques to help treat headaches once they’ve set in. Mindfulness-based exercises can help you get rid of a headache much sooner so that they don’t ruin your whole day. It’s our goal to help prevent these stress headaches from occurring, and reduce their duration if a flare-up occurs.
Let us tackle the physical manifestation of stress with physical therapy so you don’t have to deal with frequent headaches. To learn more about the specific therapy techniques we’ll use to help with this process, reach out to OrthoRehab Specialists today.