Cervicogenic Headache Vs. Migraine Headache

Cervicogenic Headaches stem from structures inside the neck and can radiate to the neck, back, front of the shoulders, scapula, down the arm, and chest.  Migraine headaches are a disorder of the central nervous system involving nerves and blood vessels. Migraine headaches are throbbing recurring headaches that are typically found on one side of your head.

Cervicogenic Headache

Symptoms:

These patients may report an increase in headache frequency and intensity, decreased ability to turn their head, increased pain with prolonged sitting postures, neck pain, muscle tightness and tenderness, arm and shoulder pain, weakness, dizziness, nausea and light headedness.

 Causes:

Joint stiffness in the neck, muscle and tissue tightness, multiple trigger points, or nerve irritation may lead to cervicogenic headaches.

Treatment:

Physical Therapy provides soft tissue massage, trigger point release, dry needling, stretching, modalities, joint mobilizations, strengthening postural muscles, and addressing proper body mechanics to decrease headache intensity and frequency.

Migraine Headache

Symptoms:

Migraines can have an aura or no aura.  An aura is a visual disturbance that informs you of a migraine onset.  Common auras are losing vision, seeing zig zags, light sensitivity, or flashing light colors.  A migraine headache causes increased pain and throbbing on one side of your head.

Causes: 

There are many causes to migraine headaches.  Some examples are loud noises, bright lights, food, weather changes, lack of sleep, menstruation, and smoking.

Treatment:

Determining the trigger for your migraine headache and working towards preventing it from happening.  Physical Therapy provides modalities, massage, stretching, and traction to help diminish symptoms and decrease frequency and severity.  Physical Therapy will teach you how to perform self massage and self traction to help diminish your symptoms.  In severe cases where migraines are daily or several times a week, medication is prescribed.

How to Exercise Safely in Hot Weather

As the hot summer months approach, it is important to be aware of hot weather safety while staying active outdoors. Listed below are some precautions you should take before exercising outdoors this summer.

 

Stay Hydrated – The increased summer temperatures will lead to increased fluid loss through sweating. It is important to drink water throughout the day and increase fluid intake when exercising to replenish the body’s supply.

Dress Appropriately – Wear light-weight, light colored clothing to reflect heat and aide in the evaporation of sweat. Avoid dark-colored clothing that absorbs light and heat.

Take Your Time – Initially, decrease the intensity of your workout to avoid overexertion. As your body adjusts to the heat with more frequent workouts, gradually increase the length and intensity of your exercise routine.

 Watch the Temperature and Time of Day – Exercise in the morning or evening, when the temperature is cooler. If there is a heat advisory or the temperature feels too hot to exercise comfortably, consider taking your workout routine indoors.

Know Your Medical History – Certain medical conditions or medications may place you at an increased risk for an adverse event when too much stress is placed on the body. Consult with your health care providers to ensure that you are performing the appropriate types of exercises under the right conditions.

Listen to Your Body – If any of the following symptoms occur while out in the heat, it is important to seek immediate medical attention: confusion, irritability, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, visual impairment, headaches, or muscle cramping.

Ideal Sleeping Position

Certain sleep positions can cause more stress and strain on your muscles, joints and ligaments than others.

 Ideal Sleeping positions:

  1. Lying on your back with a bent knee position supported by pillows.
  2. Lying on your side with your arms folded resting in front of your body and a pillow between your knees.

Not ideal Sleeping position:

  1. Lying on your stomach this causes increase neck strain and increase back strain due to the pillows under your head.

Listed below are common patient questions about sleeping:

How many pillows should I sleep with? 

Typically one pillow is best.  When lying on a pillow, you want your spine to be level.  You can gauge this by looking at your head position in comparison to your body.  You want your neck to be in line with your body position at a zero degree angle.

Where should I put my arms when I sleep? 

Ideally you want your arms in front of your body to avoid strain on your shoulder.  Never have your arms above your head.  This can compress the nerves that innervate your arm leading to numbness and or shoulder impingement.

If you continue to wake up in the morning with pain, it is most likely due to your sleeping habits.  Call Harbor Physical Therapy and make an appointment with one of our doctorate level physical therapists to learn how to decrease your pain by changing your sleeping position.

 

How to Improve your Sitting Posture

As we sit throughout our day looking at a computer screen, we slowly start to develop a forward head posture and rounded shoulders.  There are many postural exercises that we can perform throughout our day to help prevent this “slumped” posture. Check out this video by Dr. Amanda at Harbor Physical Therapy to learn how to perform a scapular retraction exercise to help improve your sitting posture.

 

 

Home Safety Tips

Every year, there are many injuries and fatalities that are caused by a lack of home safety. There are many different ways you can modify your home and your daily routine to ensure safety. Here is a list of home safety tips:

1. Secure scatter rugs.

2. Have contrasting colors on transitions into different rooms, stairs, and different level surfaces.

3. Avoid using cleaners that make the floor slippery.

4. Always wear supportive shoes/slippers without an opening back.

5. Avoid walking in socks without grippers.

6. Have a night light to your bathroom.

7. Make sure steps have a non-slip surface.

8. Make sure you have proper lighting in all areas.

9. Make your bath/shower skid proof.

10. Purchase a non-slip bath mat.

11. Store heavy items below shoulder level.

12. Avoid wearing loose clothing while cooking on the stove.

13. Check expiration dates on food and medications.

14. Take your medication in a well-lit room.

15. If you have a medical history and or history of falls, invest in a medical alert system.

16. Remove clutter from your floors to avoid tripping.

17. Do not put too many electric cords into one socket.

18. Install a smoke detector.

19. If using a space heater, make sure it is 3 feet away from anything that could burn.

How to Use a Foam Roller

When using a foam roller to decrease muscle pain/tightness, place it on the tender muscle.  Roll the whole length of the muscle until you find a tender point.  Spend 20-60 seconds on the tender point.  You can either hold the foam roller over the tender point using your body weight or you can gentle slowly roll over the area.  Spend no more than 5 minutes on a muscle.  Be careful not to spend too long on one specific area because it can cause increased pain and bruising.

High density foam roller

Thanksgiving Survival Tips for Injury Prevention

  • When creating your Thanksgiving meal, take several sitting breaks. Your legs and back will need some rest during the hours of food preparation, cooking, and baking.
  • Be careful when bending to get dishes into and out of the oven. Thanksgiving turkey and side dishes can be quite heavy. Use your legs to lift versus your back. Pull dishes as close to your body as possible before attempting to lift. This will help save your back!
  • Split up the clean dishes into smaller piles before trying to lift them into kitchen cabinets. This will limit strain to your arms and shoulders versus trying to lift a large stack of plates.

How To Tell If You Are Properly Hydrated

Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day can cause dehydration. Being thirsty isn’t the best indicator of your need to hydrate, as it means you are already dehydrated. A good rule of thumb to tell if you are properly hydrated is to pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale and clear urine means you’re well hydrated. Dark urine means drink more fluids. Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated. Also, certain foods include a high percentage of water, such as fruits and vegetables.

SEE no EVIL, HEAR no EVIL, FEEL no EVIL

The three components of balance comprise of the visual system (SEE), proprioceptive system (FEEL), and the vestibular system (HEAR – located in the inner ear). The brain integrates and processes all the information from these 3 systems to help us maintain our balance or sense of equilibrium. When you start to have problems with your balance, one or more of the above systems might be affected. Let us examine each of these systems briefly.

SEE no EVIL – Visual system

Receptors in the retina are called rods and cones. When struck by light, the receptors send impulses to the brain that provide visual feedback on how a person is oriented relative to other objects. This is how we know when we are upright or lying sideways.

HEAR no EVIL – Vestibular system

The vestibular system in each ear is made up of the utricle, saccule, and three semicircular canals. The utricle and saccule detect up, down, and side to side movements. The semicircular canals detect rotational movement. When the head rotates in the direction sensed by a particular canal, the receptors in that canal sends impulses to the brain about movement. When the vestibular organs on both sides of the head are functioning properly, they send symmetrical information to the brain.

FEEL no EVIL – Proprioceptive system

Proprioceptive sensory/mechanoreceptors from the skin, muscles, and joints are sensitive to stretch, pressure, and movements. With any movement of the body, the receptors respond by sending impulses to the brain which then interprets these movements. This is how even with your eyes closed you can tell if your elbow is straight or bent or which way your head is turned.

How to Decrease Strain on Your Back While Driving

Sitting for a long period of time can put a strain on your back causing lower back pain. Listed below are some tips to reduce strain on your back while driving.

1. Avoid driving for more than 2 hours. Get out and walk around and stretch your legs.
2. Adjust your seat from time to time.
3. Use a lumbar support or seat cushion.
4. Short drivers can purchase a pedal extension to improve their sitting posture.
5. Use cruise control.
6. Move your seat up to avoid slouching.
7. Heat your seat to provide warmth to your muscles.
8. Ice your back when you get to your destination.