Migraine headaches are disorders in the central nervous system, nerves and blood vessels, which makes them a centrally-mediated pain disorder. It’s because of the involvement of the nerves and blood vessels that creates the pain you feel when you experience a migraine.
Physical therapy relieves pain in muscles and joints in the peripheral nervous system, so depending on the extent muscles and joints are affecting your headache will determine how physical therapy will help. It can also help disc pathology, lack of neck motion, poor posture and tightness between the shoulder blades. These are all muscle and joint issues that can be the cause of your migraine headaches.
Some problems in the muscles and joints that cause migraine headaches include muscle tension in the neck and/or jaw. Muscle and joint problems can cause pain in the head by referral pain and triggering a migraine event. Referral pain is when the discomfort within the muscles and joints directs pain to the head. Meanwhile, triggering a migraine headache can occur when pain in the neck produces a headache. This can be accompanied by muscle tightness as well.
Physical therapy can help these muscle and joint issues by treating the problems in the neck and/or jaw to relieve the migraine pain those body parts are creating. Some of the treatment physical therapists use to relieve this pain is use of heat or ice, soft tissue mobilization, mobilization of the shoulder blades, mid back, ribs and neck, and neck, mid back, and pec stretches.
Some symptoms of migraines that a physical therapist can relieve include pain in your skull, eye, or jaw area and/or in your head or neck that lasts from hours to days. If the range of your head/neck movement is limited or pain worsens with certain movements then these are signs a physical therapist can help.
The goal of physical therapy when targeting and relieving your pain is to increase blood flow and create a larger range of movement in the neck and head. By doing so tension is released which allows for a smoother and wider scope of movement.
Physical therapy can do more than just relieve the pain caused by migraines. It can help stop the migraines from returning by improving joint mobility and strengthening muscles in your upper back and neck.
Depending on the severity of your pain and how the muscles are affected will determine how long you will need to go through physical therapy to feel back to normal before your migraines.
Access Physical Therapy & Wellness offers a variety of services to help patients with issues like migraines at many of our locations.