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Alternative Ways to Treat Headaches Including Dry Needling

October 17, 2018

Headaches can be debilitating. Nearly all Americans have experienced headaches, sometimes on a regular basis, making everyday tasks and activities a struggle. Even worse, a bad headache can lead you to cancel plans and spend time in a dark room medicating yourself. If you are looking for alternative ways to handle your headaches, there are options to treat or aid with your current treatment plan. From oils to dry needling in Denver, consider one of these options for relief. 

Essential Oils

In the last few years, there has been a rise in popularity with essential oils. These oils are made up of liquid of various plant that some people find helpful for many of life’s issues, including headaches. Oils are a natural treatment, which many like when keeping away from traditional medications. Each type of oil can relax an area, helping to calm down tense problematic areas. 

Oils can be bought almost anywhere, from your local drug store, online, or at the grocery. Before buying, read the tips for buying essential oils so you know the oils you are purchasing are quality. Remember—price and quality do not always correlate, and you do not have to buy the most expensive oil for results. 

If you have pets, use caution with diffusers as some of them can cause illness in your pets. Once you are ready to shop for oils, you can find them at affordable prices, so be sure to shop around to get the best price. Some of the best oils to use for headaches are: 
  • Peppermint: The menthol in peppermint is one of the leading reasons it is helpful for those suffering from a headache. Menthol is known for a calming effect, which can ease tension in the head while experiencing a headache. When applying peppermint oil, it can also help promote healthy blood flow, which can reduce the symptoms of headaches. 
  • Lavender: Lavender itself has been used for relaxation in a variety of ways, so it is no surprise that it is a popular oil used for headaches. Whether used topically or used through a diffuser, it is a fast-acting relief method that can actually calm muscle and reduce symptoms within 15 minutes. Lavender is especially helpful for severe headaches or migraines. 
  • Eucalyptus: For those with headaches due to sinus problems, Eucalyptus is a go-to. It is known as an anti-inflammatory, helping to calm muscles and increase blood flow. It also has traits that make it a decongestant, making it a great option for those needing to clear the sinuses for relief. 

Diet Changes

Did you know the food and beverage you consume could be the leading cause for your headaches? Everyone is made differently, which means your body can react differently to certain things that are consumed. This is why it is important to monitor what you eat to figure out what foods could be triggering your headaches. Some of the most popular foods or ingredients that cause headaches include aged cheese, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, bread, caffeine (which for some, can actually help headaches), chocolate, MSG, nitrates, nuts, oranges, pickled goods, pizza, potato chips, sulfites, and much more. 

The best way to approach food is to figure out which foods trigger your headaches. Do this by purchasing a food journal. Begin taking note of what you eat each day and when you get headaches. You must do this for a long duration of time, so you can compare foods against each other once you are at a place to narrow things down. As you determine possible triggers, eliminate them from your diet. Continue to take detailed notes to help you as you narrow these downs. 

On the flipside, certain foods and ingredients have been known to help reduce symptoms of a headache. Some of these foods include: 
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Brown rice or quinoa
  • Caffeine
  • Cherries
  • Eggs
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, etc.)
  • Lettuce and spinach
  • Melons (water, cantaloupe, etc.)
  • Mushrooms
  • Regular or sweet potatoes
  • Yogurt

Also, dehydration is a leading cause of headaches. The recommended minimum amount of water to consume in a day is 64 ounces. However, depending on your activity levels, you may need to replace water more quickly. Start with at least 64 ounces and increase it depending on how active you are, your type of work, etc.

Dry Needling

At your local physical therapy office, dry needling can be performed to help with your headaches. Often mistaken for acupuncture, dry needling is a technique that uses thin, filament needles that are strategically placed into the soft tissue. The areas are known as trigger points, which are essentially knots. Dry needling is popular to treat a variety of aches and pains and can be especially helpful for treating headaches. 

A physical therapist will be able to determine where these trigger points are that could be the cause of your headaches. These areas could be in your neck, back, temples, or other areas. 

Don’t worry, dry needling isn’t painful. It is not like receiving several shots. Most can barely feel the needle going in and a common reaction is a small twitch or spasm in the area. After the twitch, which stimulates the muscle, it then relaxes. Some may experience a sensation of a cramp and some soreness, but it is short-term with great results. At most, you could feel sore for a day, which you can calm with hot or cold treatment and stretches. In order to see some long-term relief, you will schedule a series of visits for the treatment—usually six to eight. Once the needles are inserted, it helps to break up the knots in the area, hence causing relief. 

Using Denver physical therapy to help relieve chronic headaches is a great way to live a pain-free life. The team at Peak Physical Therapy and Wellness are experienced in dry needling trigger point therapy. It is a great way many of our patients choose to find relief—not only for headaches, but for bursitis, sciatica, neck or back pain, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, and more. We have locations throughout the Denver area—contact Peak PT & Wellness to schedule a consultation at an office near you.