Physiotherapy for Migraine Headaches

By Athlete's Care on April 06, 2021

Can our Toronto physiotherapists or other sports medicine specialists help when it comes to migraine headaches? The answer is yes, in many cases. That might come as a surprise, even to many migraine sufferers, or migraineurs. The disorder is generally considered to be neurological in nature, so how can physical therapy of any kind help? It may seem counter-intuitive, and there isn’t much research into this area specifically, but physical therapy is known to help migraneurs in a variety of ways.

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are extremely debilitating, and are about as common as high blood pressure. The throbbing pain, accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light and noise, can make it difficult to perform even the simplest everyday tasks. The neck is a complex structure made up of bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The jaw and muscles of the face that control that eyes can also be stress points. What constant pressure can create is a vicious
cycle of tension and pain.

Migraines due to cervical (neck area) disorders and impairments may be treated with physical therapy. As part of your individualized treatment plan, other options may be added to your therapy team, such as:

  • Massage therapy;
  • Medical acupuncture;
  • Exercise therapy

Vestibular Migraines

It’s an unfortunate fact that vestibular migraines are often difficult to diagnose. As such, patients often receive the wrong treatment, and management plan. Some end up undergoing a series of tests with no real answers. Research into the problem has shown that many people who suffer from vestibular migraines
end up seeing four or five specialists before finding an accurate diagnosis.

In general, up to half of all migraine sufferers don’t seek or receive any treatment at all. The vestibular system incorporates the inner ear, and portions of the brain that handle eye movements and balance. For about 40% of all migraine patients, their symptoms include some level of vestibular syndrome, which means:

  • Difficulty balancing;
  • Dizziness, which can be severe;
  • Vertigo accompanied by nausea and vomiting;
  • Neck pain due to muscle spasms in the cervical spine;
  • Confusion and disorientation;
  • Anxiety, and even panic

Physiotherapy Options

Along with other treatment options and lifestyle modifications such as avoiding food and environmental triggers, physiotherapy can also be of help in managing migraines. In some cases, depending on the exact type of migraine and cause, it can provide significant relief.

Your physiotherapist will assess things like your hand, eye and body movements, range of motion and more. There may also be neurological tests. Your Toronto physiotherapist can advise you on which types of therapy are appropriate in your case.

This might include:

  • Manual therapy;
  • Exercises and adjustments to posture;
  • Working with the shoulder, neck and jaw muscles;
  • Cranial massage and therapy;
  • Chiropractic spinal manipulation;
  • Among others.

If you experience migraine headaches and you’d like to discuss your treatment options, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy, chiropractic, and sports medicine clinics today for a consultation.