Treating stress-related headaches with physical therapy

Stress-Related Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache in adults and older teens. They occur when the neck and scalp muscles contract or become tense, and they can happen at any age. They often appear as a result of poor posture, increased stress, neck or jaw problems, fatigue, or arthritis. However, it’s possible to experience tension headaches when feeling anxious, depressed or stressed. 

Stress-related headaches generally start at the back of the head and progress to the top of the head and eyes. Sometimes, facial pain along the jaw and cheeks accompanies the headache. They have been compared to wearing a tight hat, having hair pulled or a squeezing of the head from the ears inward.

Treatments for stress-related headaches vary depending on the cause and severity, but in many cases, visiting a physical therapist for treatment can help.

How can a physical therapist help?

Physical therapists are skilled in a variety of methods that help reduce pain, such as:

  • Gentle strengthening exercises
  • Gentle flexibility exercises
  • Hands-on mobilization techniques
  • Posture guidance and more

Your physical therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your health history and a careful physical examination. They will ask you a series of questions to determine the type of headache you’re experiencing and determine the best route for treating your pain.

During your first visit, you can expect to undergo some of the following:

  • Tests of your muscle strength and sensation
  • Questions regarding previous injuries to your neck, head, jaw and back
  • Inquiries about the location and types of pain and other symptoms experienced
  • Measurements regarding the range of motion of your shoulders, neck and other relevant parts of the body
  • Manual therapy to ascertain the mobility of joints and muscles in your neck
  • Examination of your posture while engaged in different activities

If your physical therapist determines that you’re dealing with stress-related headaches, you’ll work together to develop a plan for care to meet your physical health goals. If the evaluation determines a different type of headache, your physical therapist will likely refer you to a different type of health care professional.

Goals of physical therapy

The goals of physical therapy vary from patient to patient, but in general, the goals for treating neck pain include:

  • Improvement of your posture — Poor posture throughout the day impacts your level of pain and likelihood of stress-related headaches. Your physical therapist will teach you methods of improving your posture for a greater quality of life.
  • Improvement of neck movement — Using manual therapy, your physical therapist can stretch the muscles in the back of your neck to help reduce pain and increase movement.
  • Improvement of strength — You’ll learn exercises to help strengthen the muscles that control your upper back and neck so that your posture improves and you’re able to endure standing and sitting for longer periods without discomfort.

Visit Franklin Rehabilitation for headache treatment

Do you suffer from frequent stress-related headaches? Our team at Franklin Rehabilitation is here to help. We can guide you through a personalized treatment routine to help reduce and prevent stress-related headaches. Contact our team today for more information about treating stress-related headaches or to schedule an initial appointment.