As winter lingers on this year, many of us cannot escape from sinus colds or headaches.
Sinus colds or headaches result from congestion that causes excess fluids to fill up the sinus cavities in our head and face. This causes pressure in the form of a headache. Along with a consultation from your physician for medication if needed, physical therapy can help decrease sinus congestion causing your headache.
What are some symptoms of a sinus headache?
Nasal discharge, feeling of fullness in the ears, fever, and facial swelling are all symptoms of a sinus headache. Whether your headache symptoms can actually be attributed to the sinuses will need to be determined by your doctor.
If your headache is caused by a sinus blockage, such as an infection, it is likely that you will have a fever as well.
What can Physical Therapy do for a sinus headache?
• Suboccipital release: By performing a release of your head at the base of your neck, your body is stretched from your head to your tailbone region. This stretching causes the fluids that are built up in the sinus cavities to redistribute throughout your body, away from your head.
• Stretching of the muscles surrounding your neck: By stretching muscles surrounding the neck there is an increase in circulation to the tissues allowing relaxation of the neck.
This provides nutrients to the muscles surrounding the glands that are irritated and swollen.
• Myofascial release to the sinuses: By providing a tapping/stroking technique to the sinus cavities of the forehead, your sinus cavities are allowed to further open up. This helps to remove the excess fluid causing the pressure and headache.
• Accelerated Recovery Performance Machine (ARP): This device is a form of electrical stimulation that is performed to the sinus cavities on your face that helps to stimulate your sinus cavities to open up and remove excess fluid. This allows you to breathe better without congestion into your nose or pressure into your head.
• Kinesio Tape: Kinesio tape can be applied to the back of your neck to reduce pain and inflammation, relax overused or tired muscles, and support muscles in movement. Kinesio tape is used to treat anything from headaches to foot problems and everything in between.
What can you do at home?
Heat the muscles of the neck to help improve circulation in the muscles surrounding your neck. This will help your neck relax in a comfortable position to decrease your headache. While doing this, apply a cool washcloth to the forehead and over the eyes. This helps ease the intensity of the headache.
The next time you suffer from a sinus headache remember you don’t have to suffer alone. Ask your doctor about trying physical therapy. The posture of your neck, tightness of your muscles, and/or the position of your jaw may be contributing to your sinus troubles.
Physical therapy is an effective medical treatment that can improve your posture, decrease muscle tension, improve jaw mobility and positioning, and provide exercises to help you feel your best.
Jay Brower PTA, is a physical therapist assistant, working at In Touch Physical Therapy.