The Migraine Research Foundation estimates that about one out of every four US households has a member who suffers from migraine headaches. Most people who experience migraines have one or two attacks per month, but for folks with chronic migraines, they can be an almost daily occurrence. The good news is that physical therapy can provide real relief from migraine headaches.
The most common type of migraine, which is referred to as “classic migraine,” often arrives with a sensory disturbance called an aura. After someone has had migraines a few times, they will usually recognize the aura as a sign that a migraine is coming. The disturbances during the aura can include seeing flashes of light, blind spots in the visual field and other changes in vision. Some people also feel a tingling sensation in their hands or face when the sensory disturbances are happening.
The migraine itself is an intense headache that is usually accompanied by feelings of nausea. The pain symptoms will be unilateral, meaning they will appear on one side of the head, face or neck. Many people also experience phonophobia (extreme sensitivity to sound) or, photophobia (extreme sensitivity to light). Everyday activities such as driving a vehicle, looking at a computer screen or walking up a flight of stairs can aggravate the migraine symptoms.
For about one in five people who suffer from migraines, the condition becomes almost completely disabling until the migraine goes away. A typical migraine can last anywhere from four hours to 72 hours. It’s also important to note that migraines are different than cervicogenic headaches, and have a slightly different physical therapy treatment regimen.
Physiotherapy Migraine Relief
Head and neck physical therapy at Pursue PT can provide lasting relief from migraine headaches. The process starts with a discussion of the patient’s symptoms, followed by a conversation about the causes of migraines. There are several things that can “trigger” a migraine headache. Determining what those triggers are for each individual patient can go a long way toward eliminating the recurrence of migraines.
These are some of the most common triggers:
- Stress or anxiety — stressful situations can lead to and aggravate migraine symptoms
- Hormonal changes in women — pregnancy, menstrual cycle, menopause or birth control
- Diet — certain foods such as chocolate, red wine, certain cheeses, MSG in Chinese food
If diet is a contributing factor in a patient’s migraines, eliminating the trigger foods can prevent migraines from coming back. Patients might need to keep a food log to identify the various foods that trigger their headaches. Techniques for reducing stress or anxiety should be employed. For women, who are the most common sufferers of migraines, hormonal changes can’t be done away with. However, if migraines are triggered by birth control, switching to a different brand might make a difference.
As for physical therapy treatment and migraine rehab, the main course of action will be manual therapy — a specific type of physical therapy soft tissue massage — which will be carried out on the neck. Cervical manipulation or mobilization, neck strengthening and neck coordination exercises will also be employed. After six to eight treatment sessions, most patients start to see a dramatic decline in the intensity, frequency and duration of their migraine headaches. Some patients with very intense migraines may require more treatments, and some will require less.
Contact Pursue PT for Migraine Rehab
- One in four US households have at least one migraine sufferer
- Can be triggered by stress, diet or hormones
- Head and neck physical therapy can relieve symptoms or eliminate migraines
- Six to eight treatment sessions can dramatically reduce symptoms and duration of migraines
The pain and debilitation from migraine headaches don’t have to be permanent fixtures in your life. Use the red “Book Appointment” button at the top of any page on our site to book an appointment, or call Pursue PT directly at (201) 340-4846.