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Integrative Therapies.

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Headache Management

While headaches are among the most common of medical complaints, the consequences can be severe. More than 50 million people in the US suffer from recurring headaches that interfere with their daily activities. If you are dealing with frequent headaches, you know that they can not only affect your ability to do tasks at home or at work, but can also a significant impact on your quality of life.

Individuals having migraine and tension headaches may acquire some symptom relief through the use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. Research has shown that many of the drugs used to treat headaches can also be a primary cause of recurring headache pain due to the 'rebound' effect that may accompany frequent usage. At Integrative Therapies, we work with individuals who have been evaluated by a physician and who are interested in exploring complementary strategies for pain management.

Whether desiring to control headaches without medication (such as during pregnancy) or simply hoping to expand your management repertoire, the application of complementary therapies offers the opportunity for an enhanced quality of life.

Personalized Treatment Program:

Although headaches can be divided into several sub-categories for diagnosis, each individual's headache problem is unique and requires an individually tailored program to be optimally effective. One important aspect of headache management has to do with clarifying specific headache triggers, whether they be dietary, environmental, hormonal or behavioral. Therapists at Integrative Therapies assist clients in implementing personalized strategies that take into account their headache characteristics as well as lifestyle factors. For those interested in learning specifically about dietary triggers, we offer nutritional services including food sensitivity testing.

Physical Therapy in the Treatment of Headaches:

Various forms of physical therapy have been found to be effective in treating headache pain. Both manual and movement therapy promote relaxation and repatterning of the neuromuscular habits that contribute to pain and dysfunction. Techniques such as craniosacral therapy, Myofascial Release, and the Trager® Approach are frequently used at the center. Postural and biomechanical factors can play a role in the instigation and maintenance of headaches and are addressed through a number of bodywork techniques and prescriptive exercises.

Trigger points, or what is often referred to as 'muscle knots', are frequently found in the neck, jaw and facial muscles of people with both tension and migraine headaches. In a recent study, 93% a migraine patients were found to have trigger points in their neck muscles compared to 29% in the control group. Despite the significant difference, health professionals often overlook trigger points as a complicating factor in the symptom picture. At Integrative Therapies, we address trigger points in a variety of ways. Electrotherapy and 'hands-on' techniques, such as neuromuscular therapy, can be beneficial. Dry needling of trigger points can also be very effective when other methods have been unsuccessful.

Stress Can Be a Factor:

It is well documented that stress can trigger or exacerbate a headache. Sometimes the application of simple relaxation strategies is sufficient to keep a headache at bay. At other times, or for other people, a more in-depth exploration of emotional or social factors is helpful in bringing solutions to a headache problem. At Integrative Therapies, we offer a range of bio-behavioral strategies including relaxation training, stress management counseling and biofeedback. Depending on the nature of the person's headache problem and their response style, they may receive EMG (muscle) feedback, temperature training (vascular feedback) or HRV (Heart Rate Variability) biofeedback.

Addressing Central Nervous System Components:

Another form of biofeedback, called neurofeedback, monitors EEG brainwave patterns and uses feedback to enhance brain function. Neurofeedback has been found to be helpful in a number of pain conditions including migraine. It has also been applied successfully in some cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Cranial Electrical Stimulation (CES), utilizing a small portable AlphaStim unit, helps train the brain to function in a lower arousal state which can support pain management and improved sleep.

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine:

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been found to be quite effective at reducing the frequency and intensity of all types of headaches (migraines, cluster and tension). Acupuncture addresses neuromuscular tension which can contribute to headache problems. It can also significantly lessen the nausea and vomiting associated with severe migraines. In addition, acupuncture treatments provide deep relaxation, thereby calming a hyper-aroused nervous system.

 


Therapists at Integrative Therapies are trained to facilitate each client's awareness of mind/body factors that influence headache pain. Stress habits, postural elements and biomechanical factors can all play a significant role in maintaining a pain problem. Individual assessment and guidance in ameliorating problem areas can go a long way toward empowering you in the self-management of headache pain.

 

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7E Oak Branch Drive    •    Greensboro, NC 27407    (336) 294-0910