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Using Denver Physical Therapy to Help Relieve Chronic Headaches

March 28, 2018

We all get a typical headache from time to time. Sometimes it is stress related, for others it could be nutritional habits. However, others experience headaches on a regular basis, which can be debilitating for everyday life. If you suffer from chronic headaches, it is crucial to get to the root of your problem. Each person is different and there are options out there to help. Learn more about chronic headaches and migraines and how Denver physical therapy can help.

Different Types of Headaches

A headache is a headache. Right? Not exactly. In fact, there are more than 100 variations of different types of headaches. Headaches occur in different areas of the head due to a multitude of causes. Some of the most common types of headaches include:
  • Cluster: When a person has a cluster headache, it is normally a deep pain in one area. It is common for them to occur around the eye area. Due to how painful they can be, they can sometimes be mistaken for a migraine, especially if nausea is involved. The pain from a cluster headache not only can sit around one’s eye and temple, but also shoot pain around the face, neck, and even shoulders. The affected eye may become red and/or dropping some people experience congestion in the nose. It is common for people who suffer from cluster headaches to have multiple flare-ups throughout the day, lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours.
  • Sinus: Sinus headaches occur when there are congestion issues. This can occur from sinusitis, allergies or a cold. Sinusitis happens when the sinuses become congested and unable to expel as they normally would. There are passages in the forehead, eyes, nose, and cheeks and when there is added pressure, it is painful. The pain gets even worse when one tilts their head forward or even when lying down. Pain can even occur in the teeth.
  • Tension: Tension headaches are often described as a tight feeling around the head. They can take place on both sides or front of the head and range in pain levels. When it comes to tension headaches, there are two types: episodic and chronic. Episodic tension headaches pop up and can last for a short amount of time or up to several days, every so often. A person may experience them a couple times a month. Tension headaches are chronic when they occur over half of the month.
  • Migraine: When a person has a migraine, they experience extreme pain on one side of one’s head. The pain can be so severe making a person experience nausea, vomiting or dizziness. Others also experience sensitivity to light or sound and it is common for a person with a headache to lay down in a dark, quiet space. For some, a migraine will last for a few hours, while others may have ongoing symptoms for a week.

Headaches Stemming from Larger Issues

Headaches can occur due to a multitude of causes. Ultimately, they happen when the blood vessels around the brain swell. As they swell, it negatively impacts the areas around them hence the pain around the different areas of the forehead, temples, and cheekbones.

There are two ways headaches are categorized: primary or secondary. Primary headaches are ones where a headache is the main problem or a stand-alone condition. Cluster headaches, tension headaches or migraines are primary types of headaches. Secondary headaches are headaches that are a symptom of another pain or illness. Sinus headaches would be an example of a secondary headache.

Headaches are genetic for some. For others, they can be due to stress and anxiety, medical issues, high blood pressure, overexertion or nutrition.

How Migraines Differentiate from Headaches

While migraines and headaches both have pain in and around one’s head, migraines are more severe. In addition to its already debilitating symptoms, there are a few additional symptoms or categories of a migraine that headaches do not have. The first is an aura. Migraines with an aura are ones that include visual changes in addition to sensitivity to light, due to neurological changes. They can cause a person to see zig zags, flickers of light, spots or other illusions. For others, vision may become blurry or there may even be a temporary loss altogether.  Auras usually occur prior to a migraine and can last for a few minutes up to several. Auras can also be sensory, leading to negative sensations in the body such as in the arms, legs or feet.

Tips for Relief

Those who suffer from headaches can find relief in a variety of ways. One of the most common ways is through over-the-counter medication. Popular ones include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, and naproxen. In addition, rest and relaxation are key. When coping with a headache, continuing to push yourself will not aid in its disappearance. For some, they find relief through peppermint oils that can be rubbed on the temples. Food also can play an impact on headaches. It is important to monitor when a headache occurs. In many cases, it can be food related. For some, it can be intolerances and allergies, while for others, it can be artificial ingredients and aspartame. Use a food journal to document what you eat and any symptoms that occur after. Over time, you will begin to see patterns and can make changes accordingly. It is important for you to do research and learn how to stop a headache to find methods that work for you.

Did you know that physical therapy can aid in headache relief? Whether your headaches are primary or secondary, Peak Physical Therapy and Wellness can help. Oftentimes, headaches are caused by musculoskeletal problems or jaw pain. Through working with us, we will help you find the root of your headaches and come up with a relief plan for you. In many cases, through dietary changes and customized exercises and stretches, relief is in sight. You can also try dry needling or soft tissue mobilization. Contact Peak PT and Wellness today to set up your appointment.