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Research Shows Physical Therapy Reduces Chronic Headache Symptoms

By Rich Banton, PT, DPT, OCS, CMPT, ATC, CDN | July 7, 2016

Headache disorders are among the most common disorders plaguing the nervous system. In fact, it is estimated that almost half of the adult population experienced a headache at least once last year. Headache disorders describe individuals that experience recurrent headaches, namely migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.

CAUSES FOR HEADACHES:
  • Fatigue and sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Side effects of medication
  • Viral infections
  • Dental or sinus issues
  • Thoracic or cervical spinal abnormalities

Headache disorders often go untreated as they are underestimated, under-recognized, and under-treated within the healthcare system. Most often patients are prescribed medications to mask the pain of headaches, but the underlying cause is rarely determined. Physical therapists, skilled medical providers that are well versed in the bio-mechanics of the cervical and thoracic spine, have successfully shown to eradicate headache disorders, however. We are trained in therapeutic inventions and modalities, such as dry needling, mobilization, and manual therapy, that have been proven by research to effectively treat headaches.

Case Study

I had a patient that suffered from chronic headaches for over 20 years that is now discharged and back to leading a normal life. She had tried several treatments in the past, but was never referred to a physical therapist by her doctor for this issue. A friend had recommended she visit Virginia Therapy and Fitness Center and in less than 6 weeks I was able to reduce her headache frequency to once a month. The intensity of her headaches was also reduced by more than 80%.

Together we created a six week treatment plan that combined dry needling, manual therapy, and muscular re-education exercises. Manual therapy included soft tissue mobilization or joint mobilization, followed by a series of functional exercises. Six months after her discharge, my patient remains significantly improved from her course in physical therapy.

If you suffer from chronic headaches, it is highly recommended that you consult with a physical therapist trained in dry needling and manual therapy. If you have any questions about treatment options, please call us at 703.709.1116 or schedule an initial consultation today!

About The Authors

Rich Banton, PT, DPT, OCS, CMPT, ATC, CDN

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