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WHEN TO SEEK HELP

All headaches require medical attention. Mild, severe, chronic, or recurring – headache pain should always be diagnosed by a physician. Headaches are never normal and they may signal a serious underlying condition.  Warning signs calling for prompt medical evaluation include ...

  • Loss of balance, Impaired speech, vision, movement or other neurological problems, especially if these symptoms were not present with previous headaches.
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headaches that become worse when lying down
  • Headaches that start very abruptly
  • Sudden severe headaches associated with a stiff neck.
  • Headaches following a blow to the head
  • Unusually severe headaches, especially if associated with sneezing   or coughing, exercise, or changes in head position
  • Headaches during pregnancy, especially the third trimester
  • Headaches associated with spinal pain
  • Headaches associated with nausea, vomiting or fever
  • Persistent and severe headaches
  • Headache that is different from any previous type
  • Recurring headaches in children
  • Headache in patient with a history of cancer

For many headaches, evaluation and testing by an internist, neurologist or other physician(s) does not result in a clear diagnosis, and the cause of the headache pain remains unknown.  In these cases, it is logical to seek a professional assessment by a qualified manual therapist who may locate and identify soft tissue disorders that are causing the headache pain. 

Most manual therapists recommend that patients make an initial visit prior to taking medication for headache.  Pain medications mask the headache symptoms, making it more difficult for the therapist to locate and assess the origin of headache pain in soft tissue or skeletal disorders of the neck, shoulders and jaw.

EVALUTATION

This evaluation may include the temporary reproduction and easing of headache pain through palpation techniques. By recreating the headache and then relieving it, the manual therapist can localize the exact source or sources of the headache pain (there may be more than one), which greatly increases the likelihood of a successful treatment outcome. This need to temporarily reproduce the headache is why patients are advised not to begin any pain medication prior to their initial visit with the manual therapist.

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This also usually includes a detailed history of the headaches, including the nature, severity, frequency and duration of headache pain; the specific location of the pain, and the circumstances surrounding the onset of headaches.  Headaches often have clear-cut symptoms which fall into a recognizable pattern.  This initial evaluation may also assess the patient’s posture, sleep and exercise habits, exercise routines and other factors.

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We will also use hands on palpation techniques to complete their detailed evaluation and precisely locate the cause of the headaches and develop a treatment plan.

headachetherapy.org | Email Michael | 847.770.3332