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“I Can’t. I Have a Headache.”

By: Sheila Borgen, PT

Headaches. Sometimes you wake up with them. Sometimes you go to bed with them. They can pop up out of nowhere, just like a summer thunderstorm. They can be a minor nuisance or stop you in your tracks, causing you to seek solace in your dark bedroom, desperately begging the headache to lighten up.

There are over 150 different types of headaches, each falling into one of two categories. There are primary headaches and secondary headaches. While an underlying health condition does not cause primary headaches, secondary headaches are from other sources. For the sake of time, we will be discussing primary headaches today. Primary headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches, which are the most common type of headache. Primary headaches can arise from many causes, including stress, anxiety, consuming alcohol, poor diet, lack of sleep, exposure to strong odors, and poor posture.

Many people cope with headaches regularly by taking over-the-counter medications, which may decrease the pain but provide only temporary relief. Others try to sleep it off. Some people take daily prescribed medicines in hopes of riding themselves of headaches. Although these are not entirely wrong solutions, they are flawed. Taking acetaminophen, aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen can damage your liver. Taking prescribed medications has a slew of side effects. One common migraine medication can have side effects that mimic a heart attack or a stroke. Yikes!!

If you struggle with headaches and do not desire to ingest medications to get some relief, I have an alternate plan for you, physical therapy. Did you know that a physical therapist can help you achieve comfort from headaches? Therapists can teach you strategies to implement into your daily life to fight off head pain, providing long-lasting relief. They can teach you how to use ice and heat, self-relaxation techniques effectively, and stretches that can bring that pain level down. Therapists can also address cervical movement disorders, muscle tightness, and posture, all contributing factors to your pain. Therapists provide hands-on manual therapy to increase head and neck mobility, decrease muscle tension, reduce muscle spasms, and increase muscle efficiency.

Headaches can be disabling. They can wreck your plans. Stop saying, “I can’t. I have a headache.” Instead, reach out to Brooke’s talented therapy team. Let them help you turn your “I can’t” into an “I can!”

Sheila is a freelance writer for physical health, mental health, and parenting. She has four exceptional children, one adopted from South Korea. She lives in Alabama with her husband and children. Sheila enjoys cheering her children on at archery tournaments, soccer games, and color guard performances. She has over 24 years of experience as a physical therapist with a special love for the senior population. Learn more about Sheila at


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