How Neuromuscular Therapy Can Relieve Headaches

People living with the pain of chronic headaches will do just about anything to get relief.

Millions of Americans deal with headache pain, which can range from mild to severe enough to cause disability. In fact, headaches are one of the most common reasons people visit their doctor.

Neuromuscular therapy (NMT) is a treatment approach that helps patients feel better without pills. There are several types of headaches that respond well to neuromuscular therapy, including migraine and tension headaches.

Here at Beverly Hills Headache Institute, our board-certified neurologist, Ravinder Singh, MD, offers specialized care for a full range of neurological needs, including chronic headaches. In addition to conventional headache treatment, neuromuscular therapy is a treatment option that has helped many of our patients get relief from chronic headaches. 

What is neuromuscular therapy?

Neuromuscular therapy, also called trigger point therapy, breaks the stress-tension-pain cycle. It’s a hands-on evaluation and physical treatment that addresses headaches and musculoskeletal pain by treating trigger points and muscle adhesions. At its core, NMT utilizes precise treatment protocols to reduce trigger points and release stuck muscles. 

Trigger points and headaches

Trigger points are areas of irritated tissue that can cause pain. These extra sensitive nodules have what’s called referred pain, which means a trigger point in one area can cause pain in another part of the body.

For example, when the shoulder muscle has a trigger point it may refer pain up the neck and head, causing a headache. Trigger points are especially linked to tension-type headaches. 

How your muscles contribute to headaches

Your muscles make up a large part of your body, about 40% of your body weight on average, and they have more of an impact on your health than you may realize. When your muscles have trigger points, then pain, stiffness, and tension can occur.

NMT involves using alternating levels of pressure and friction to release areas of strain in your muscles to address the trigger points. This causes these small areas of contracted and knotted tissue to relax, which stops referred pain and provides headache relief.

The muscle that connects your sternum and clavicle to the back of your head commonly causes referred pain. This stabilizer muscle, called the sternocleidomastoid muscle, enables head rotation and flexion. When you develop a pressure point in this muscle, you may experience neck pain and tension headaches.

Poor posture increases pressure on the sternocleidomastoid muscle, requiring it to work harder to balance things out. This is one of the factors that can contribute to the development of trigger points in this muscle. 

Your feet and headaches

It may surprise you to know that your feet can contribute to headache pain. For example, wearing high heeled shoes shifts the distribution of your body weight, putting a strain on your muscles and causing trigger points that can contribute to headaches. In this case, lifestyle changes, such as wearing a different style of shoe, are just as important as NMT. 

Help for chronic headaches

Headaches are more than a nuisance. They can interfere with your life and prevent you from being fully productive. When you come in to see us, Dr. Singh works with you to pinpoint the cause of your headache pain. To get started, call our office in Beverly Hills, California, to schedule your appointment or use our convenient online booking form.

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