At New Body ~ New Mind, we successfully treat muscular (tension) headaches, cervicogenic headaches, and TMJ headaches using manual therapy, physical therapy and hypnotherapy.
Migraine headaches are neurological in nature, so theoretically they should not respond to the protocols established for treatment of tension headaches or cervicogenic headaches. However, many migraine patients also complain of chronic tension in the neck and shoulders and often have a persistent, low-grade tension headache in addition to the migraines.
Over the years, we have noticed that when we release neck muscles in migraine sufferers, the frequency of their migraine attacks significantly decreases. We can only assume that when migraines coexist with tension headaches, tension headaches increase the sensitivity of the central nervous system, effectively lowering the threshold for migraine triggers (or tension headaches themselves serve as triggers for migraines). That would explain why once the tension headaches are resolved, migraines become less frequent.
Treatment for headaches at New Body ~ New Mind typically follows our general philosophy of normalizing muscle tension and restoring optimal mobility of the joints in the involved region before working on its function.
The sequencing of our rehabilitation program is especially important in the case of headaches because the majority of headaches we treat are caused by chronically tight and over-activated muscles. In other words, if we asked you to exercise your neck and shoulder muscles too early in your treatment, we would only make the situation worse by making your muscles contract even more.
So when treating muscular headaches, our first goal is to restore optimal mobility of the joints, fascia and muscles of the neck, shoulder, and face, while releasing myofascial trigger points in all involved muscles. This stage of headache treatment consists primarily of manual therapy. Patients who believe that stress is a major contributing factor to their headaches may also choose to engage in hypnosis in order to learn how to manage stress and develop more functional responses to everyday pressures. Hypnosis also helps patients’ efforts to control posture, improve motivation to implement our recommendations in everyday life, as well as to develop positive expectations for the future.
Once your muscle tension normalizes and trigger points are released, we start teaching your muscles how to appropriately activate when you exercise or perform regular daily activities. This is accomplished through physical therapy with a focus on exercise, neuromuscular re-education and functional retraining. We can still use some manual work at this stage of treatment to reinforce previous manual treatment results or to manage occasional flare-ups.
As we described earlier, the majority of headaches are caused by chronic tension of the neck-shoulder muscles. Before we describe our typical headache treatment protocol, let’s review the sequence of events leading to the development of muscular headaches:
You can see now that in order to resolve your headaches, we have to reverse these changes. First we need to relax your tight muscles and release their trigger points. That will resolve your headaches. But in order for your headaches not to return, we also have to make sure that whatever caused the muscles to become tight in the first place will not happen again.
For example, if the reason for your muscle tightness was poor posture, we will teach you correct postures and movement patterns. This requires not only body awareness training, but also strengthening of any weak stabilizing or postural muscles and developing their endurance to maintain correct posture all the time. The most common muscles we need to strengthen are core muscles and muscles between your shoulder-blades because their weakness causes over-activation of your neck muscles with any arm activities.
If your headaches are cervicogenic (caused by a dysfunction of the joints, discs, or other innervated neck structures) we follow a similar protocol, where we initially focus on the causes of your neck dysfunction. If the problem is the alignment of your joints, we correct that. If your joints or ligaments are inflamed, we resolve that inflammation. Muscular tightness usually accompanies other neck pathologies, so we also work on the tight and sore muscles at this stage of your program. Once all structural issues are resolved and your pain is significantly decreased (or resolved) we initiate functional retraining program to ensure that you will maintain the results of your headache treatment and prevent any recurrences in the future.
Watch video testimonials and read what our patients say about headache treatment at New Body ~ New Mind.
To schedule an appointment, simply fill out our appointment request form online or give us a call at 617-969-8995.