Is physiotherapy useful for migraines?
There are a variety of physiotherapy treatments that may be of some benefit in migraine patients, especially when the neck seems to be involved in triggering the attacks.
Gentle cervical manipulation and traction can be considered and be beneficial when there is neck tension and muscle spasm. This can frequently accompany or trigger migraine attacks in those who are predisposed. Treating neck and jaw related problems may help to reduce headache frequency and severity.You should consult with your physician about more aggressive forms of cervical manipulation before considering these.
Working on your posture can be achieved by learning neck and shoulder exercises you can do at home. Slouching of the posture is frequent, especially if your do computer work. Slouch leads to overextension of the neck, puts pressure on the neck facets and may cause pain. Rounding of the shoulders is also seen in desk workers. A few physiotherapy sessions won’t make lasting changes in your posture. Only regular exercises that YOU do will.
The addition of stretching, massage and other techniques may be a useful adjunctive therapy. Be aware that if you have a lot of allodynia (reduced pain thresholds), massage may be painful and trigger a migraine.
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) is a technique that applies small currents of electric shocks to areas where is pain is felt. Although this is used frequently there has been little benefit demonstrated.
However if headaches are limited to a very few per month, and seem to be triggered by other factors (hormones, food), the benefit of physiotherapy in general is likely to be limited.