Published by Shauna Burchett, OTR/L on

Have you ever felt like your head was in a vise? Have you experience an intense pressure that feels like your head is going to explode? Many Americans have this kind of experience, and no one should have to live with it.

Headaches often come packaged with neck and shoulder pain, but regardless of their spectrum of possible causes, there is help for this condition. There are many categories of headaches; however, I am going to touch on two of the most common headaches in this blog today: tension headaches and migraines.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Nine out of 10 adults have tasted the bitterness of this torture. Physical and emotional stresses are the major causes of tension headaches. We can easily tighten the muscles of our neck and jaw during a stressful event, which is part of the fight or flight response.  Our body is trying to prepare itself by protecting fragile or vital areas of our anatomy (in this case the brainstem, and the relatively fragile jaw). While truly life-threatening events are not so common for most of us in today’s society, it is still possible that you are working very hard or are overburdened with obligations and feeling the cumulative tensions that are produced.  If your work is a major cause of stress for you do your best to take breaks as often as possible. Sedentary jobs can be just as detrimental to our bodies health as manual labor jobs, it is just experienced in different ways. Keep in mind to practice proper sitting and standing posture to decrease the likelihood of headache flare-ups.  If sitting and standing are difficult for you to do properly we can offer treatments and techniques to improve that as well as help directly with your headache symptoms.

Migraines are also a very common experience. They have made 28 million people in The U.S. kneel in submission. They are so powerful that they literally make their victims lie still in dark, quiet places like prey hiding from their predator. Migraine symptoms may include moderate to severe throbbing pain in the head, nausea, eye pain, an inability to perform any activity, and severe sensitivity to light and sounds. As if that wasn’t enough, the migraine can inflict its torture on a person for up to 72 hours! That’s half of your week!! Unfortunately, there is no one universal treatment for migraines, but there are many ways to address treating these episodes to overcome them and even prevent the frequency that they occur. There are also ways to avoid the wrath of this ghastly giant if you are willing to take your health into  your own hands. First, don’t allow yourself to be over stimulated by excessive lights or sounds. If you work at a computer all day then do your best to rest in the evening, for even just five minutes.  You could even try a light eye pillow or perhaps cucumber slices over your eyes. The gentle weight (the lighter the better) and the visual relief will be very rejuvenating for both your eyes and your mind. Secondly, stay away from chemicals that trigger migraine headaches. Avoid any kinds of alcoholic beverages, caffeine, aspartame, and processed foods. Is it really worth having 3 days of agony for a few minutes of pleasure?  Remember to contact your doctor for a full evaluation if your headache problems persist.

Synergy Healthcare offers physical therapy, occupational therapy and massage therapy in Spokane Valley, WA. Our highly trained therapists are ready to get you back on track fast! We try to prepare helpful articles that can help enrich your life. Have a question you want answered? Contact us for more information.

Shauna Burchett, OTR/L

Shauna Burchett, OTR/L is a skilled occupational therapist and the owner of Synergy Healthcare. She graduated from the University of Alberta in 1993 with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Shauna began her career as an occupational therapist specializing in traumatic head injuries. She has also worked in skilled nursing facilities specializing in long and short term geriatric rehabilitation. Shauna has been in private practice since 1998.