We’ve all been there before. You’re sitting at your desk, or maybe in your car on the way home from work, when it hits: a tension headache. The pain begins with tension in your neck or shoulders that creeps upward through the base of your skull. Some people experience these occasionally, and some people, unfortunately, experience them daily. You may have even tried stretching and optimizing your work station, but if you are suffering from stress-related headaches, you know that the only relief comes from either reducing stress or taking medication.
Sometimes it can seem hopeless to search for a long-term solution to a problem like this, however, there is no reason to keep living this way when a physical therapist can help you relieve the pain and get rid of stress headaches. Contact our clinic today for more information on tension headache pain management.
What is a stress-related headache?
Tension and stress-related headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches, start in your neck and radiate to other areas of your body. When you experience this kind of headache, you’ll notice that the back, side, or even the top of your head may become painful to the touch. Your shoulder may start to ache on the same side where your headache began. As a result, you may even experience weakness, dizziness, or nausea.
Causes of stress-related headaches
Stress-related headaches are often the result of stiff joints in your neck. As these joints become immobile, the soft tissue around them becomes tight, irritating the nerves in the area. Once communication from the nerves is limited, your brain begins compensating in an attempt to return your body to proper function. As a result, you experience pain, stiffness, tension, even numbness, and tingling.
Stress-related headaches can be triggered by several things, including:
- Physical or emotional stress
- Alcohol consumption
- Caffeine (drinking too much or having withdrawal)
- Colds, the flu, or a sinus infection
- Jaw clenching or teeth grinding
- Excessive smoking
Our sedentary lifestyle is partly to blame for tension headaches. According to one study by the Centers for Disease Control, one in four Americans spends more than 8 hours a day sitting down. With more and more work happening at computer terminals, many of these hours are spent using poor posture as we slump over a computer screen and keyboard.
Of course, the natural solution has been ergonomically designed workstations that place your entire body into proper place before beginning work, but the amount of time we spend sitting down during the day often contributes to the amount of stress-related headaches the typical person experiences.
If you’re experiencing tension headaches daily, it’s important to take note of your daily activities to see what could be triggering the problem. A physical therapist can also help you to improve your posture and movements to decrease the likelihood of developing a tension headache.
Physical therapy can help to achieve relief.
Most people associate physical therapy with surgery and recovery after going under the knife. While physical therapy is certainly a useful tool, in this case, it is also designed to help you live a happier, healthier life. When you visit a physical therapist, they can examine not only your current shape, they can also dive into the details of your work and home life to find ways to help you beat the sedentary slump contributing to your headaches.
You might be wondering what to expect during a physical therapy appointment. First, your physical therapist will take detailed notes on your medical history, including an accounting of how you spend your time. This will be followed by diagnostic testing to thoroughly evaluate your muscle strength, balance, ability to stand, walk and sit, and your typical working posture.
Next, the physical therapist will prescribe manual therapy and stretches as well as targeted exercises designed to improve your posture, provide pain relief, and help fight the immobility at the root of your headaches. Your physical therapist will also evaluate your progress over time and make suggestions for getting the most out of your physical therapy experience.
The best part about physical therapy is that treatments are natural, non-invasive, and do not involve prescription pain medications that may make your symptoms worse. Get ready to say goodbye to over the counter medication for pain management.
Physical therapy treatment might be your best option…
Still unsure whether physical therapy is right for you? Call our office or visit us in Lawrence, KS to talk to our physical therapist and find out how you can beat your stress headaches. Remember, your therapist will be with you 100% of the way to make sure you’re able to overcome and manage your pain. Rest assured that you’re not alone in your battle to get your life back on track!