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» Headaches/NSR : Headache Types

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Headache Types

Multiple Types of Headaches Require Multiple Treatment Options in order to address the Underlying Problem, not just Treat the Symptoms.

Primary Headaches

Primary headaches include migraines, tension-type, cluster, and others.  

Migraines can have multiple "triggers" but their cause has yet to be completely explained.  Current research is beginning to point to intracranial pressure due to variations in cerebrospinal fluid.  Many times this pressure can be caused by structural changes that have occurred causing flow related abnormalities. Physical Therapy for this type of headache focuses on releasing impactions in the cranial sutures. Thus freeing the patient from the pressure changes that causes migraines.  Physical Therapy can help reestablish the proper flow of blood cerebral spinal fluid to the brain and spinal column, thus freeing the patient from the pressure changes that cause migraines.

Tension-type headaches are commonly treated by physical therapists due to mounting supportive research showing the effectiveness of a comprehensive physical therapy program in resolving this type of headache. Typically, this type of headache is caused by tension in muscles found around the neck and face.  A comprehensive program for tension headaches typically involves many of the physical therapy options listed below.

Cluster headaches are rare but are usually the most excruciating.  Triggers can include pressure on the brain and eyes, alcohol, cigarettes, high altitudes, certain foods etc. There are a number of physical therapy techniques that can aid in relieving this type of headache depending on the patient's specific triggers.

Secondary Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are common and often recur. This type of headache is caused by mechanical issues found in the neck.  Much like the tension type of headaches, the research shows that these type of headache sufferers are excellent candidates for physical therapy. A thorough examination will help the physical therapist address and resolve these neck abnormalities.

TMJ headaches are similar in nature to cervicogenic headaches in that they originate in one location (the jaw) and send pain to another location.  Treating the underlying cause of these headaches is the key to full resolution. Physical therapy treatment focuses on getting the TMJ joint to move freely without pain which in turn ends the headache cycle.  

Some of the available headache relieving techniques that are part of our Headache Program:

Dry Needling

Manual Therapy

Decompressive Traction


Cold Laser


Posture Correction

Headache diet education

Work space ergonomics

Stress/Breathing techniques

Therapeutic exercise/stretching

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