June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month
June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Headaches and migraines are unfortunately common concerns for many people around the world. Headaches and migraines can persist for long periods and can be quite debilitating. According to the World Health Organization, general headaches are ranked third and migraines are ranked sixth in the list of highest causes for “years lost due to disability” (YLD) in a lifetime. Headaches and migraines may limit people in their ability to complete work-related tasks, provide daily care for themselves and loved ones, and participate in social functions. They may also limit sleeping quality, reduce concentration and alertness during the day, worsen mood, and increase anxiety and depression.
Some statistics on Headaches and Migraines
Migraines affect 39 million men, women, and children in the United States, over 1 billion worldwide. Nearly 1 in 4 households in the United States has someone who suffers from migraines. Migraines tend to run in families, with 90% of sufferers having a close family member that also suffers from migraines. One last food for thought to demonstrate the severity of migraines and headaches, every 10 seconds, someone in the US goes to the emergency room complaining of head pain, and approximately 1.2 million visits are for acute migraine attacks.
Types of Headaches and Migraines
There are multiple different types of headaches and migraines including, but not limited to, cervicogenic headaches, allergy headaches, cluster headaches, hypertension headaches, menstrual headaches, sinus headaches, TMJ headaches, tension-type headaches, and migraines with or without aura.
With so many varieties of headaches and the impact headaches and migraines have on day-to-day life, your medical team needs to be aware of the fine details of your headache and/or migraine experience. Therefore, physical therapy treatments for people who have migraines and/or headaches start with a thorough review of their medical history.
Questions your physical therapist may ask you include:
- Where are your migraines and/or headaches located? Is it the same location consistently or does the location change?
- How often do you have migraines and/or headaches and how long do they last?
- When does your migraine and/or headache usually start?
- What makes your migraine and/or headache worse?
- What makes your migraine and/or headache better?
- How does your migraine and/or headache limit you (i.e. difficulty sleeping, reading, working, etc.)?
This discussion of your symptoms is very important for your physical therapist to better understand your concerns. If you are unsure of your answers to these questions, it may be useful to start a daily headache diary in which you document these details of your headaches for easy reference.
After discussing your medical history, a trained physical therapist will examine your head, neck, jaw, and other regions of the body that may relate to your headaches and/or migraines. The examination may include range of motion, strength, nerve, soft tissue, and joint testing. These tests will help direct the appropriate course of physical therapy treatment for your unique situation and type of headache. There are many treatment options available to you in hopes of reducing your headache and/or migraine intensity and frequency. Treatments may include stretching, soft tissue release, strengthening, posture training, sleep habit changes, stress management, pain neuroscience education, and many other treatment options specifically prescribed to you. Talk with your doctor or TMJ/Headache specialized physical therapist soon about how physical therapy may help you!