Physical Therapy as a Solution to Migraines: An Interview with Ashley Forrest, PT, MSPT

Those unfortunate enough to suffer from migraines know good and well they are not just any ordinary headache.

The agony from migraines can often be debilitating and if they reoccur over a long term basis, can subsequently cause other serious health issues.

Changing one’s diet, reducing stress and implementing daily exercise are beneficial in reducing attacks.

However, according to Tidewater Physical Therapy’s Ashley Forrest, PT, MSPT, and Clinical Director of the Denbigh location in Newport News, true migraines result from a vascular issue, and in an interview with MD TV said that for those suffering with frequent headaches, physical therapy is a good option for relief.

Vascular headaches, Forrest said, often have some kind of muscular/skeletal component to them, which physical therapists, experts in the way a body moves, can help with.

Some of the most common complaints patients come in with that, whether they realize it could be related to their headaches, include neck/upper back tightness, neck/upper back weakness, faulty posture, increased stress in their lives, and even jaw clenching.

Posture, Forrest said, plays the largest role in the cause of most of these complaints.

“We’re a society of sitters,” she said. “And if we’re not sitting correctly, and we’re sitting really often, then those muscles in your upper back and your neck can get really sore and can get a lot of tension in them because we’re not assuming great posture throughout the day. It’s sort of like having this 10 to 12-pound bowling ball on top of your body and if it’s not sitting correctly, then those muscles and tendons around your back and upper neck will have to work harder than they are meant to.”

Several important goals of physical therapy for those suffering with severe headaches include decreasing the patient’s pain, restoring his or her normal flexibility, improving his or her overall posture awareness and improving his or her postural strength.

According to Forrest, treatment options include the use of heat, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and cervical traction to reduce tension in the neck and more.

Finally, Forrest said, a major goal of therapy is to build strength in the muscles in and around the neck.

“We want them to build the muscles in and around their neck and their upper back so that it’s easier for them to maintain (their postural strength) for longer periods of time,” she said.

Have back pain and want to see Forrest? Make an appointment today. Not in the Newport News area? Find a Tidewater Physical Therapy clinic near you.

Many of the physical therapists at Tidewater Physical Therapy Inc. hold Direct Access Certification through the Virginia Board of Physical Therapy.  Forrest holds Direct Access Certification and is available to evaluate and treat patients without a prescription from a physician.  Read more about Ashley and the Tidewater Denbigh Clinic