Physiotherapy Strategies for Stress-Induced Headache Relief
By Will Nase
Stress is a common trigger for several kinds of headaches including tension-type-headache (TTH), cervicogenic headache, and migraine. It can also make existing headaches feel worse and harder to manage. In response to feeling stressed, people may tense their shoulders or other muscles, breathe shallowly, clench their jaw and frown. This serves to increase muscle tension, headaches and neck pain in some people. It may also increase pro-inflammatory molecules in the body, and neurotransmitters the promote pain. Neck pain is commonly seen alongside headaches and is another important contributor.
Stress is a normal part of life for everyone, but too much or uncontrolled stress can lead to the above mentioned issues. Physiotherapy can help with basic strategies to manage stress such as:
- Muscle relaxation techniques
- Deep diaphragmatic breathing
- Hot and cold packs
It can help to gain a sense of control, the feeling that you can do things to reduce your stress. Another way physio can be very helpful is by directly treating the issue, this may include
- Massage of tense muscles
- Manual therapy of stiff and sore joints
- Dry needling
In addition to this, guidance around exercise is very important. Regular exercise can help to manage stress and reduce headache frequency. It’s important that it’s the right kind of exercise for you and your condition, a physio can help guide you in the right direction. Sometimes specific exercises may be prescribed if neck pain is a feature of your headaches too. An added bonus is that all these strategies combined may allow you to get a better nights sleep which is also very important.
If you are struggling with stress related headaches then give our clinic a call today.