What are Stress-Related Headaches?Stress-related headaches, also known as tension headaches, feel like a dull ache or pressure in your forehead or in the back of your neck or head. Lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to days at a time, this type of headache is the most common kind of headache in adults. Tension headaches often start in the middle of the day, in the back of your head and can spread forward as time goes on.
What Causes Stress-Related Headaches?While most headaches do not have a definitive cause, stress-related headaches are often triggered by either a singular stressful event or a buildup of tension over the course of the day. That is why they tend to happen at mid-day, when stress buildup has already occurred. This timing tells us that what is causing the problem is not the stressful event itself, but rather the way our body is positioned as we experience it. Poor posture, drawing your shoulders toward your ears, tense muscles in your back and neck, and fatigue can all contribute to the poor body positioning that often causes stress headaches.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?If you experience chronic stress headaches (more than 15 per month) or are simply tired of taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for tension headaches, physical therapy can address the underlying structural cause. It may seem strange at first to see a physical therapist about a particular condition without having a surgical recovery plan. However, physical therapy addresses all movement and posture problems, not just those that happen after surgery.First, a physical therapist will evaluate your posture, body strength and movement. They may also look at your work station to see if poor posture throughout the day is contributing to your headaches. Next, they will prescribe a series of stretches to do throughout the day to give your body a chance to reset its position. Finally, they may give you a series of strengthening exercises to do on your own to strengthen the muscles in your stomach, back, shoulders, and hips so you can hold your body properly as you work. Finally, they will give you pain relieving techniques to do on your own whenever you experience tension headaches. These may include ice, heat, massage, stretching, or specific movements.If you are tired of stress-related headaches derailing your day, call our office to make an appointment with our physical therapist. You’ll be surprised by what a difference physical therapy can make.