For most Americans, over-the-counter painkillers are the first line of defense against headaches. While these analgesics – including aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen – provide temporary relief, they can also cause rebound headaches and increase the frequency and severity of headaches. The same can be said about many prescription painkillers.
The human body uses pain as a warning sign that something is wrong. When pain is masked with medications, the cause of the problem is ignored; the body compensates for this by increasing pain and other symptoms.
Most headaches are not caused by problems related to the head or skull. In fact, the brain itself does not have pain receptors. The vast majority of headaches are caused by problems associated with the muscles, ligament, joints, and nerves of the middle and upper cervical (neck) region.
There are many types of headaches. The following list includes the most prevalent forms:
Tension-Type Headaches: Tension-type headaches are the most common type experienced by adults. These headaches may be the result of spasms in the muscles of the neck, jaw, and face.
Migraine Headaches: Migraine headaches usually occur in conjunction with other neurological symptoms such as sensitivity to light and sound; numbness and tingling; or auditory and visual disturbances. Migraine headaches produce a throbbing pain that is often concentrated on one side of the head.
Cluster Headaches: Cluster headaches occur periodically. They involve cycles of pain followed by remission.
Sinus Headaches: Sinus headaches are caused by inflammation of the sinuses due to allergies or as the result of an infection.
Headaches and Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is used to normalize the musculoskeletal system in order to ease tension and stress on the soft tissues and joints of the spine. Physical therapy for headaches may include any of the following techniques:
- Therapeutic Exercise
- Hot and Cold Therapies
- Chiropractic Care for Headaches
When mis-alignments in the neck (cervical spine) irritate the nerves of the spine that travel to and from the brain, headaches are often the result. This misalignment may also cause some headache sufferers to become more susceptible to chemical imbalances in the brain that cause headache. Our neck and back pain specialists work to remove pressure against inflamed nerves and relieve pain by realigning the vertebrae of the spine.
Headache Treatment with Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a healthy, drug-free treatment option for relieving the stress and anxiety that can often lead to headaches. Deep tissue massage is instrumental in the release of muscle tension and chronic knots (known as adhesions) that are a part of the cycle of stress and pain. Studies also suggest that, like acupuncture, deep tissue massage may also enhance levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can be a helpful neck and back pain management and mood-enhancing tool.
At our office, we understand that chronic pain conditions can be difficult to treat. Many headache sufferers visit a dizzying array of healthcare practitioners in search of a solution for their headache pain. This often involves visiting multiple offices for physical therapy; massage therapy, and/or chiropractic care. This process can be confusing and (even worse) ineffective when healthcare practitioners do not work cooperatively with each other.
Empower Medical Center offers a different solution. By incorporating all of these disciplines under one roof, our neck and back pain specialists make your headache treatment more effective and cohesive.