Physical Therapy and Treatment for Headaches

Mar 11, 2013

Physical Therapy and Treatment for headaches

Suffering from chronic or intermittent headaches? Are they interrupting your quality of life, emotional well-being or social interaction? Tired of being prescribed countless pills with short lasting effect? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Physical Therapy is well worth a trial and our staff at one of our four clinic locations would be happy to help.

How can Physical Therapy help?

Our therapists will begin an initial interview and assessment to determine your symptoms and rule out any serious injury or pathology and build a working picture of what may be contributing to your often debilitating headaches. At this visit, our therapists will determine whether your headache is one of 4 main types: cervicogenic, tension, migraine or cluster.

Although our therapists are able to educate and provide information regarding all types of headaches, both cervicogenic and tension type will respond very well to Physical Therapy. To simplify things for discussion, let’s combine these two types under the umbrella term; musculoskeletal headaches.

Symptoms of musculoskeletal headaches:

One or two sided symptoms, constant, dull ache, slow onset, unknown mechanism, stiff neck, pain radiating from the back to the front of the head, eased with rest, aggravated by movement or prolonged positions, neck muscle soreness, prior or current history of car accident.

Once your therapist has determined whether your headache is musculoskeletal in nature, he or she will then be able to individually construct a treatment plan to suit your findings. This treatment plan will address any restrictions, instabilities or muscle imbalances found on the initial assessment. Treatment may include one or more of the following techniques:

Education: regarding self-management, triggers, stress, posture, nature of injury, anatomy of injury prognosis, prevention, exercise technique, ergonomics of workstation. While on the topic of posture, check out a recent blog post by Lisa McTaggart, here.

Joint Mobilization: if your headache stems from stiff vertebral motion, your therapist can provide this passive joint mobility to help restore range of motion. Therapists can then provide exercises to maintain this newly gained range of motion.

Massage and trigger point release: tight bands of muscles often require muscle mobilization. Our massage therapists provide the hands on care you need to release these shortened muscles. They may also provide you with the tools necessary to self-manage these tight bands of muscle.

Stretching/Strengthening: muscle imbalance plays a large role in headaches. Your therapist will provide and guide you through a home exercise program geared towards strengthening long/weak muscles and stretching short/strong muscles.

Acupuncture or IMS: in both cases, needling can help to reduce inflammation, stimulate healing, increase blood flow and most importantly release muscle.

Modalities: heat, interferential current (IFC), TENS, ice and EMS can all be used as an adjunct to manual therapy to help in improving your quality of life.

Stop suffering from headaches, or at least give it a try. If we can’t help you, we will find someone who can, as your quality of life and function is our main goal.

To book an appointment with myself today, call 780-458-8502 or check out our full list of clinic locations and contact information here.

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What to Expect

We understand that you may have a few questions before visiting our clinics for your initial appointment.

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Book in for an appointment with one of our qualified Active Physio Works Physiotherapists &
Registered Massage Therapists.


We understand each person is different so we offer a variety of techniques that are best suited to your individual needs.