Can you feel it? Starting with tension in your neck or shoulders and creeping upward through the base of your skull? 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. Why live this way when a physical therapist can help you relieve the pain and get rid of stress headaches once and for all?
What are Stress-Related Headaches?
Stress-related headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches or tension headaches, start in your neck and radiate to other areas of your body. The back, side or top of your head may become painful.
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.
What Causes 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.
Our sedentary lifestyle is partly to blame. 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 sheer volume of time we spend sitting down during the day often contributes to the amount of stress-related headaches the typical person experiences.
How can Physical Therapy Help Stress-Related Headaches?
Most people associate physical therapy with surgery. While it plays a vital role in recovery after going under the knife, physical therapy is also designed to help you live a happier, healthier life. A physical therapist can examine not only your current shape, they can dive into the details of your work life to find ways to help you beat the sedentary slump contributing to your headaches.
First, a physical therapist will take a detailed history, including an accounting of how you spend your time.
This will be followed by diagnostic testing that evaluates your muscle strength, balance, ability to stand, walk and sit, and your typical working posture.
Next, the physical therapist will prescribe pain relieving manual therapy and stretches as well as targeted exercises designed to improve your posture and help fight the immobility at the root of your headaches. Periodically, the physical therapist will evaluate your progress and make suggestions for getting the most out of your physical therapy experience. Best of all, treatments are non-invasive and do not involve prescription pain medications that may make your symptoms worse.
Still unsure whether physical therapy is right for you? Call our office to talk to our physical therapist and find out how you can beat your stress headaches.