I recently went to a "Headache Institute" for help with daily tension headaches and migraines that would range from moderate to disabling. I am aware of nearly all of my migraine triggers, but recently had a new migraine that was happening every night of last week and started with neck stiffness that would get worse and gradually turn into a migraine. Anyway, I saw this new doctor on Monday and wanted to share an update for those who might be interested.
This office has both a regular doctor that specializes in headache treatment (whom I have yet to see) and a physical therapist. The physical therapist looks at your neck to see if there are any issues going on that might be contributing to the head troubles, as well as sinus pressure and/or pain, TMJ disorder symptoms, ear fullness/ringing/pain, eye issues, and shoulders/back aching. This place has helped many patients that have tried seeing neurologists and various other doctors and all kinds of migraine medications and still are suffering.
My neck aches were not all that bad. I felt like something was grabbing the base of my skull and it would worsen throughout the day. It was more like a sore/tension pain, not a sharp pain or anything disabling. I didn't expect that I'd have anything bad going on with my neck, but sure enough, I seem to have a disc bulge causing inflammation, which is not helping my various symptoms in my head.
The physical therapist had me do various exercises and after a little while into my appointment, I noticed my sinus pressure moved upwards a little and then almost disappeared! I always thought it was just allergies, but there is a link between that and my neck. My doctor gave me exercises to do until my next visit, wear a soft neck brace in the evenings, lay down for 10 minutes of every hour that I am home, and to NOT sleep on my stomach, which was hurting my neck more (some people are fine with it though).
I have been following these tips for just one day and woke up today feeling better than a usual day. My sinuses have much less pressure and my head didn't hurt first thing in the morning like many days. Yesterday I did NOT get the nightly migraine! I did feel a little achy, but nothing bad at all. I also have raised my computer monitor at work and now use a document holder (like an easel) to avoid looking down, which my doctor recommended.
I am so hopeful this will continue to work out well. I'll have to see the physical therapist pretty often at first, but I hope it's well worth the trouble. I will be seeing the regular doctor to look into additional things other than my neck, like hormones, since I know I get menstrual migraines. I am very pleased that at least I have one thing that should help cut down on certain headaches and migraines, as well as the sinus pressure that makes me feel so dizzy every day.
I know so many on here have tried just about everything out there, so I wanted to share my experience so far in case it's something you haven't looked into. I never thought I'd need to see a physical therapist!
Thank You, what an informative post. I was wondering about seeing a physical therapist. I had gone to a chriopractor, but was overwhelmed, because, honestly, I had a bad headache at the time, LOL. I wasn't comfortable with her suggestions and methods of treatments. But, on the other hand, for myself, a PT seems almost like a personal trainer? I am used to going to the gym, so I could perhaps tolerate some easy instruction. hmm...
I think I am getting to the root of my tension headaches finally! I'm glad you are finding ways to cope as well.
Stressless37, I felt the same way about seeing a chiropractor! I've heard wonderful things from some people, but I've also heard some bad things as well. Adjusting the neck can be pretty risky since if you mess up, it can result in a stroke! That made me pretty nervous. I like that the physical therapist doesn't adjust your neck... it's all much LESS with the movements they do. I'd imagine it's a slower process overall, but safer, more comfortable, and seems like plenty of people get great results. I also heard of a person that got acupuncture and had migraine relief after they had tried so many other things with no luck. They gave me the name of where they went, but I am going to try what I'm doing first. I don't know much about acupuncutre myself.
In a way I guess you could say it's like a personal trainer, although with tiny neck movements to help make corrections. Since I have a bulging disc that seems to be getting pushed down and causing inflammation, the little exercises I do (very small movements of my neck in a certain way while lying down) will gently push things in the direction they need to go back to. The physical therapist explained that this happens very gently and the neck movements should be very comfortable, or else you might push it too much and cause inflammation in another area. The exercises are not at all tiring. I literally only move my neck an inch or so.
I love to work out, but unfortunately they did recommend I take it easy and stick with things like using a bike or elliptical machine without using the arm parts, since they recommend I avoid having my head bob around too much. I haven't gained any weight, which is surprising since I had to considerably cut down on my activity when my migraines were coming more often, and I haven't been eating less. I'll definitely be watching my diet more going forward.
I am glad that you are finally getting to the root of your migraines! It's so frustrating getting there, so I am glad that things are starting to look better for you. I feel the same way and realize that I absolutely need to stay positive and keep my hopes up. If I get down on myself and feel stressed and depressed, that will just cause more head pains!