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Treating Migraine and Tension Headaches

When a client comes into our office with a headache, our goal is to correctly diagnose the problem and begin an effective treatment plan. The individual’s history of headaches is the most vital aspect of the headache evaluation.

Describing the symptoms and characteristics of a headache enables us to diagnose it properly and treat it successfully.  Some things that might be asked about the problem are:

  • How long have you experienced the headache?
  • When did it first start?
  • How often are the headaches occurring?
  • Does physical activity aggravate the pain?
  • What situations, medications or food triggers the headache?
  • Do others in your family experience similar headaches?
  • Are there any symptoms experienced in between headaches?
  • Are there any events that are associated with the headaches?
  • Any history of drug abuse?
  • How do the headaches affect your performance at work?

Treating Headaches

The most effective treatment of headaches hinges on several components, like the frequency and type of headache and what caused it. A treatment plan might include physical therapy education, stress management, biofeedback, medication, and headache education.

Stress Management

Practicing relaxation techniques can help to lessen headaches. When you get a headache, try doing some of these:

  • Relax and lie down
  • Stretch relaxing your muscles
  • Take a break from whatever you were doing that triggered your headache.
  • Do some deep breathing exercises – See our instructional on tactical breathing here.
  • Practice mental imagery relaxation – Try YogaPsych!
  • Use music to relax
  • Practice Progressive muscle relaxation
  • See a trusted counselor to help you recognize and let go of stress
  • Biofeedback (learn more below)


Biofeedback provides information about your heart-rate, other vital signs, and muscle tension while you are trying to relax, helping you learn skills for reducing stress. This treatment allows you to have control over body functions that cause physical pain and tension.

Helping you learn how your body reacts in stressful circumstances is the great benefit of biofeedback. If a big headache, like a migraine, starts slowly, many individuals can utilize biofeedback to halt the offense before it has become full-blown.


Headache pain is often managed by medications. These medications can be organized into three distinct kinds: preventative therapy, abortive therapy, and symptomatic relief. Each kind of medication is most efficient when used in conjunction with other recommendations like relaxation therapy, change of diet and lifestyle, and exercise.

Headache Education

Recognizing and recording what triggers a headache is part of headache education. It may be things like stressful situations, unhealthy diet, lack of sleep and environment. Your health-care specialist may suggest keeping and documenting things in a Headache Diary and bringing it with you to all your medical appointments. Write down the timing, length, and characteristics of your headaches. The information you record can help your providers treat your headaches more effectively.


Migraines are recurring, severe headaches that can cause pain for hours or even days. Other symptoms can also be present like nausea and dizziness. Acute migraine episodes can sometimes be prevented through medications.

While chiropractic treatment is not often the most common recommended treatment for migraines, there are some methods of chiropractic therapies that can be effective.

Neuromuscular Massage

Migraine symptoms may be eased with massage therapy focusing on trigger points within the head, neck, shoulder, and back.

Multidisciplinary Care Intervention

This method has shown to be effective in lessening migraine duration, pain, frequency, and disability. It is a blend of relaxation techniques, dietary counseling, physical therapy exercises and stress management.

Tension Headaches

Some of the most common head pains are occasional tension headaches. They can develop from prolonged muscle tension in the shoulders, head or neck. Typically, tension headaches can improve with non-prescription medications like acetaminophen or NSAIDs.

Modified chiropractic therapy can help improve chronic tension headaches.

Low-Load Craniocervical Mobilization

Used in spinal manipulation but with a gentler force, this treatment involves force applied to the joints of the neck. As pressure is applied, the rhythmic movement of the cervical segments is allowed. This intervention also involves stretching.

If you are interested in integrative treatment for your headaches, visit us at Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. It is likely that a combination of therapies will reduce your headache pain. Discovering the most effective combination will require a little persistence and patience. We have several therapies and would be happy to create a personalized treatment plan for you.


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