Physical Therapy for Headaches & Migraines
Headaches are one of the most common types of pain and can be debilitating. The proper treatment depends on several factors including the type and frequency of the headache and its cause. Most causes of headaches are benign and can be managed with conservative treatment. The most common causes of headaches can be related to vascular problems, sinus issues, migraine disorders and tumors. Some headaches are caused by muscle and joint problems of the neck or jaw (TMJ). These can arise after a motor vehicle accident, fall, concussion, surgery, or without obvious cause.
Causes of Headaches & Migraines
- Muscle tension and tightness
- Decreased neck range of motion
- Tightness between the shoulder blades
- Episodes of dizziness or vertigo
- Teeth grinding or bruxing
The two most common types of headaches seen in physical therapy are cervicogenic headaches and tension type headaches:
Cervicogenic headaches are caused by a neck problem and the pain is referred into the head. Typical symptoms include pain on one side of the head and is typically felt at the base of the skull, behind the eye, or radiating in a line between the two.
Tension type headaches are typically related to stress and described as a dull, aching pain that is felt along the forehead and can radiate to the sides and back of the head. In addition, soreness in the neck and shoulder muscles may also be felt.
How We Treat Headaches & Migraines
A physical therapist will complete a comprehensive evaluation aimed at determining the musculoskeletal causes of your headaches and will create a customized program to address your needs. Treatment may include:
- Manual therapy
- Flexibility exercises
- Strengthening exercises
- Postural exercises
- Modalities (heat, ice, electrical stimulation)
- Soft tissue mobilization
*Services are not available at all locations. Call or click the location page near you for that center’s services.
What to Expect
Every patient has a unique health history, diagnosis and personal goals. When you come for your first appointment, we will create a personalized treatment plan for you.
We work with most major insurance providers and do our best to help keep the paperwork pain-free. If you’d like to confirm your insurance coverage, please let us know and we can verify when you schedule. If your insurance provider requires a co-pay, we will ask for this payment at each visit. We accept payments by cash, check or credit card.
When to Arrive
On average, a patient’s first visit lasts about an hour. We typically ask patients to arrive 15 minutes early to sign-in, complete paperwork and/or change clothes.
What to Bring
On your first visit, you’ll need to bring your physician referral or prescription (if needed), your insurance card, your primary registration forms, your ID or driver’s license and your co-payment (as applicable). If desired, you may bring a change of clothing.
How it Works
During your first visit, your physical therapist will do an initial evaluation and discuss your plan of care. The therapist uses this information to set goals for your continued treatment. Physical therapy goals may include improved movement, strength, endurance and flexibility, as well as decreased pain. Your subsequent visits will focus on treatment that is based on your diagnosis and individualized goals.