Many people believe that physical therapy is only for treating orthopedic injuries, but that’s not the case. Migraines are painful and potentially debilitating headaches that can be so strong they cause nausea, light sensitivity and pain elsewhere in the body. This is because the central nervous system in the brain extends through every limb in the form of branching nerves. However, migraine medications mostly target the brain itself. Physical therapy for migraines can ease pain in other parts of the body and help you better manage migraine attacks.
Conditions That Can Cause Migraines
Migraines are a symptom that can have several possible causes. Doctors aren’t certain what definitively causes migraines. A few possible causes include:
- Brain injury, such as a concussion
- Genetic predisposition to migraines
- Chemical imbalances in the brain
- Neurological conditions
- Abnormal blood vessel size, shape or function in the brain
All of these causes are the domain of a neurologist. However, a physical therapist can teach relaxation and pain management techniques to help during migraine flare-ups.
Common Migraine Triggers
The underlying causes of migraines aren’t the same as triggers, or situations that often bring on migraines. Doctors have identified common scenarios that bring about migraines in people who are predisposed to them. These triggers include:
- Neck compression from poor posture
- Lack of sleep
- Certain medications that affect blood flow
- Certain foods
- Hormonal fluctuations, such as during menstruation or pregnancy
- Caffeine sensitivity or excessive caffeine intake
Each person’s triggers are unique to them. A physical therapist can help you identify and avoid your specific triggers. Keeping a “migraine diary” is a smart step you can take to get started. Write down the time of the migraine, how long it lasted, any warning signs as it was coming on, and what you ate, drank and did directly beforehand.
How PT Can Help You
Physical therapy near me may not address the neurological cause of migraines, but it can help with migraine pain and triggers. This can drastically improve your quality of life. Physical therapy can teach you to avoid triggers and identify signs of an incoming migraine early.
Stretching, meditation and other relaxation techniques can reduce daily stress, improve sleep and potentially help you have fewer migraines. A physical therapist can also adjust your posture if pressure from the neck and upper back contributes to your migraines. Lastly, pain tends to increase if an oncoming migraine causes panic. Using relaxation techniques throughout a migraine attack can lessen pain and help the migraine go away faster.
Regular exercise can also help ease migraine symptoms in many people. Exercise is a natural stress reliever and pain reliever, plus, it improves overall cardiovascular health. A simple walking regimen can be a good place to start for beginners. Physical therapy can help you design an exercise and stretching program for your current level of fitness.
People with migraines often have accompanying pain in the spine, as well. A physical therapist can stretch and gently manipulate the spine to ease pain. Back pain treatment therapy Oklahoma can improve long-term spine health while treating the painful side effects of migraines. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of physical therapy for migraine management.