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Oh No, Not Another Headache!

By: Allison Weder

We have all had them. Whether from injury, stress, or neck strain, people complain about headaches more than any other medical ailment. In fact, according to the National Headache Foundation, 40 million Americans are living with headache disorders right now. The good news? There is help! Some headaches, especially cervicogenic or postural headaches, can be prevented with a few easy changes in your daily routine.

Try Preventing Headaches Yourself

We are a society glued to our screens. From computers to tablets to cell phones, it is important to think about how staring at those screens could be impacting your life. If headaches are a regular part of your week, consider this checklist to make sure your workspace has the correct ergonomics:

  • Do not hunch over your laptop. It can lead to back, shoulder and neck strain.
  • Work at an appropriate height. Your elbows should naturally fall flush with your table/desk.
  • Use an office chair, if possible, to prevent lumbar and neck discomfort.
  • Do not let your feet dangle. Put your feet on a few books or a box under your desk.
  • Follow the 20/20/20 rule: For every 20 minutes spent looking at a computer screen, you should spend 20 seconds looking at something else, 20 feet away. This gives your eye muscles a break.

If the Pain Persists, Physical Therapy Can Help

For years, Advanced Physical Therapy Center, now part of the Phoenix Physical Therapy family, has been helping people find relief from headache pain, sometimes in as few as three appointments. Director of Clinic Operations, Shelley Hanchett, PT, CHT says, “One of the keys is strengthening and stabilizing the deep flexors of the neck to help improve posture. Advanced PT’s expertly trained Physical Therapists take a specialized approach, working on those deep muscles and joints in the neck which can be the cause of the pain. In addition, the gentle techniques they use allow the joints to become more mobile and relieve tension associated with headaches.”

Advanced PT uses a variety of therapies to achieve the most efficient outcomes with a special focus on posture and alignment rehabilitation, scapular and deep cervical musculature strengthening, cervical mobilization, functional dry needling (not available at all Phoenix PT locations) and myofascial decompression or cup therapy. Katy Tice, PT, DPT from Advanced PT – Clarkston, says a patient should expect their Physical Therapist, “to learn the patient’s history and implement a plan that’s specific to their needs. Not everyone is the same. We will discuss which techniques will be best, with the goal of them leaving our care pain free.” Katy goes on to say, “I’ve had patients that see relief after one treatment, and I’ve had some that require a few weeks of treatment, so that time varies.”

Clarkston Clinic Director, Christina Henriquez, experienced chronic headaches firsthand. “I actually came in with cervicogenic headaches. I was experiencing headaches a couple times a week. My Physical Therapist did soft tissue work, modalities, and ultrasound. Even after a few visits, my headaches decreased significantly, and over the course of the treatment my headaches diminished, and I was pain free. It was such a relief.” Christina adds, “As long as you follow the home exercise program and follow through with the treatment plans we discuss, relapses will be limited as well.”

To find help with your chronic headaches, click here to find a Phoenix Physical Therapy location near you.