Headaches can be relentless. For many individuals, a headache can ruin their day or even leave them incapacitated for an extended period. They are also infamous for being difficult to treat, as many factors contribute to headaches and all patients respond to treatments differently. The most common way to manage headaches is with various medications, but there are numerous other treatment options that may be used either instead of or in addition to this approach. Here at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy, we treat headaches and migraines in New York City with traditional therapy techniques combined with psychological interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based practices.
About 90% of Americans will experience at least one headache in their lifetime, but 45 million suffer from chronic headaches, meaning the issue is ongoing and persistent. Tension headaches affect more than one-third of men and more than one half of women, which makes them the most common type overall. The main symptom of a tension headache is a dull, aching pain and tightness across the forehead, which is similar to the characteristic symptoms of a migraine.
Migraines affect up to one in seven adults and are the second most common type of headache. Women are about three times more likely to get them than men. Migraines are usually described as a throbbing, pounding pain that can last from hours to several days, sometimes multiple times each month. They also tend to be more intense and severe than other types of headaches. A unique sign of migraine is that many patients experience other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light, noise, or smells, nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, or upset stomach.
Our therapists attack migraines in New York City with a variety of techniques
Most patients will consult with their primary care physician or see a headache specialist or neurologist for their condition, and this is usually a good starting point. But not all patients improve with medications and require additional care. Physical therapists are also capable of effectively treating headaches and migraines, and they can prescribe a unique management program that attacks the problem from a different angle with other interventions.
At Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy, we treat patients with headaches and migraines in New York City with a combination of traditional physical therapy techniques plus some psychological interventions, which are intended to teach individuals the mechanisms behind these issues to reduce their occurrence. A typical treatment program will likely include the following components:
- Physical therapy techniques
- Soft tissue and neck mobilization: this manual technique involves a physical therapist moving the muscles and soft tissue of the neck and upper back
- Strengthening and stretching exercises: these are performed by patients to increase the strength and range of motion of the muscles that stabilize the chest, upper back, and neck to improve posture and endurance
- Posture education: if posture is believed to be a contributing factor to your headaches, your therapist will teach you how to make slight modifications to the home or office to improve your overall spinal posture, reduce stress, and increase your body awareness
- Psychological interventions
- Biofeedback: this treatment teaches patients to control certain functions of their involuntary nervous system with an instrument that measures a bodily response—like heart rate, skin temperature, muscle tension, or blood pressure—as the patient tries to modify that response; the goal is to provide the patient with immediate information that shows how stress and other factors can contribute to their headaches, and then teaches them how to make changes that will prevent future episodes
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): since many headaches are related to anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues, effectively treating them often requires addressing these underlying causes; CBT is an intervention in which the therapist uses various behavioral strategies to help you understand the psychological triggers of your headaches and teaches you how to better cope with these contributing factors
- Mindfulness-based practices: mindfulness essentially means “paying attention to the present moment without judgement,” which is another strategy that can help patients alleviate headache-inducing stress; our therapists educate patients on how to be more mindful in their daily lives with mental exercises and discussions that will help them avoid thinking traps that keep their minds in the past or future, which research shows can reduce the occurrence of migraines
If you’re affected by headaches or migraines in New York City, we can help. Contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today or click here for more information on CBT for migraines.