Physical Therapy for Migraine Headaches

Physical Therapy for Migraine Headaches

When you hear the term “orthopedic physical therapy,” you would likely think it only treats musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. However, did you know that it can also help control migraine headaches?

Let’s discover how exactly you can benefit from physical therapy if you’re suffering from migraine headaches.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Once your specific condition is thoroughly evaluated, your physical therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan, which can be used in conjunction with the standard pharmacological interventions.

Among the various treatments available to help you manage your migraines are the following:

  • Exercise – Cervical retraction, flexion, side-bending, and rotation exercises are designed to improve your neck motion and reduce pressure on your cervical nerves.

When performing neck exercises for headaches, your physical therapist will teach you to move in slow and steady motions, avoiding sudden or jerky movements. Your therapist may further instruct you to add pressure with your hands to each neck stretch with the end range position of the stretch being held for up to one minute.

  • Postural Correction – This technique is appropriate if your head posture is contributing to the frequency of your migraine attacks. Poor posture causes your upper cervical spine and suboccipital area to pinch the nerves that travel up the back of your spine.

Your physical therapist can help you correct your posture by performing slouch-overcorrect exercises to help find an optimal posture or by using a supportive neck pillow while you sleep. Another option is kinesiology taping to help improve your postural awareness.

  • Heat and Ice – Applying heat or ice to your neck and skull can help decrease pain and/or inflammation. Heat relaxes tight muscles and improves circulation, especially before performing neck stretches.
  • Massage Therapy – Massage therapy can help improve mobility and decrease nerve irritation, making it especially beneficial if your headaches are exacerbated or triggered by tight muscles, which also limit your neck motion,
  • Traction – Mechanical or manual traction can help decrease the pain of migraine headaches by decompressing your neck’s disc and joints, allowing for improved motion.
  • Vestibular Therapy – This specialized form of treatment is designed to relieve symptoms associated with migraine, such as dizziness. This therapeutic modality involves performing specific neck, head, and gaze stabilization exercises, which are geared toward improving the functions of your vestibular system – the sensory system that affects your sense of balance and spatial orientation.
  • Electrical Stimulation – Your physical therapist may use transcutaneous neuromuscular electrical stimulation (TENS) to decrease pain in your neck muscles and thus improve your migraine headache symptoms.

Depending on your specific condition, these physical therapy options can help provide relief within a few days or over the course of several weeks. However, some patients may continue to experience migraine headaches for months after starting therapy. If this is your case, your physical therapist will use these techniques to control and minimize the frequency and severity of your symptoms.

Physical Therapy in Clinton Township, MI

At Movement Orthopedics, we offer on-site physical therapy services for a wide range of orthopedic conditions as well as migraine headaches. We have licensed physical therapists who are all committed to delivering high-quality and comprehensive care.

To see one of our physical therapists, you will need to get a referral. Simply fill out this appointment request form to meet with one of our orthopedic surgeons. You may also call us at (586) 436-3785, and we will be happy to assist you!

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(586) 436-3785