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Drug-Free Ways to Prevent and Reduce Headaches

Prevent and Reduce Headaches

The first thing many of us do when we get a migraine or headache is reach for a pill, right? But before swallowing those Ibuprofen or Advil, we should probably consider that along with the “desired effects” there are also many “side effects”. Below are some tips for you to use at home and other treatments that are not medications to prevent and reduce headaches.

Manual work

Physical and massage therapy is normalizing the musculoskeletal system in order to reduce stress and tension on soft tissues and joints. For example, the upper trapezius muscle, on the top of the shoulder is frequently problematic in headache patients. This muscle is commonly overused during activities such as computer work, leading to the development of trigger points. Trigger points are focal areas of muscle fiber contracture that, in the case of the upper trapezius, refer pain up the neck and into the temple in the instance described above. For trigger points in the upper trapezius muscle, the therapist would likely work on releasing and stretching the problematic muscle fibers. In addition, posture, alignment, and strength issues would need to be addressed, as faulty mechanics in these areas can contribute to the development of trigger points.

The joints of the upper cervical spine can also be culprits in referring pain into the head. These joints can be injured in an accident, or can develop increasing stiffness and pain gradually over time. The physical therapist’s job is to restore mobility in these joints and correct muscle imbalances, poor posture, and physical activities that contributed to the problem in the first place. Problems with the joints and the muscles often occur together and contribute to one another, thus both must be adequately addressed for effective pain control to result.


This process uses electronic equipment to measure the level of muscle tension and/or temperature allowing for muscle re-training via visual feedback. Biofeedback is a valuable tool because it is giving us the ability to ease a tension headache by re-gaining control and monitoring the relaxation process and re-gaining control of muscle over-firing.

At Lilly Physical Therapy, we use a clinic-based unit as well as home units. Home units are remarkably simple and easy to operate, yet efficient.

Cold laser A new Revolutionary Pain Relief device known as the 830Laser is a great help for headache pain. Laser therapy has been successfully used around the world for over 25 years, with no reported long-term or irreversible side effects. This device is providing anti-inflammatory and bio stimulating effects providing fast pain relief.

Lifestyle modification

Simply changing your lifestyle in a few different areas can help to alleviate migraines or headaches drastically. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Control and reduce your stress through mindfulness and breathing exercises.
  •  Take short power naps to re-charge during a stressful day.
  • Avoid “triggers” such as loud sounds, bright lights, and very hot or cold weather.
  • Keep your posture neutral to avoid strain on your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.  Try this at work if you sit at a computer all day.  Do not hunch over your desk- this will cause tension headaches.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle of exercise and eating clean.  Drink plenty of fluids before and after exercise, eat a small snack after, cool down and stretch.  Stay hydrated and give your body a day or two of rest in-between workouts!  
  • Any relaxation method like yoga, meditation, and use of aromatherapy triggers release endorphins (feel-good hormone) and helps relieve muscle tension.


How can Lilly Physical Therapy help?

The physical therapists at Lilly Physical Therapy in Edmonds WA are experts in treating musculoskeletal disorders and have skills, knowledge, education and equipment to treat and prevent headaches. We are making a difference by focusing on neck and jaw joints and soft tissues, while addressing issues related to posture, healthy life style, and stress control.

Our comprehensive headache treatment package includes advanced manual skills, trigger point release, joint mobilization and soft tissue release, relaxation exercises, wellness coaching, stretching, massage, biofeedback training, and cold laser therapy. We teach patients the best way to utilize modalities, stretch and relax and instruct family members in gentle massage techniques or manual cervical traction. Our patients are provided with easy to use home biofeedback units that are simple yet effective.

Call today to set up an appointment and start feeling your best!Lilly Physical Therapy: (425) 224-2476

SoftWave Therapy is now available at Lilly Physical Therapy. Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment.