Curing headaches with needles: a subject that may prick your curiosity!

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A headache that won’t go away can be really inconvenient! You know, that headache that persists day after day? If medication doesn’t work or you can’t take it for “x” reasons, physiotherapy remains a prime alternative.

Physiotherapy offers a range of treatments that can help relieve headaches, such as manual therapy of the neck, as well as muscle relaxation techniques such as dry needles under the dermis.

Dry needling

The sources of headaches

There are several potential causes behind unpleasant headaches, including muscle tension. In fact, the main muscles involved in triggering headaches are the temporals (tempes), suboccipital muscles (skull base), and trapezius muscles. Often, these muscles can cause headaches because of the presence of tense strips or trigger points. This kind of muscle tension can result from poor posture, overuse or even stress! Massage techniques can help, but sometimes they may not be enough to relieve deeper tension. Dry needles under the dermis, however, can reach the deeper layers.

Numerous systematic scientific articles (Boyles, Fowler, Ramsey & Burrows, 2015; Kietrys, 2013; Liu et al., 2017) support the effectiveness of intramuscular or trigger point treatments using dry needles. Microlesions created by the needles may promote the reconstruction and reorganization of connective tissue, with the aim of increasing its resistance to mechanical stress (Liboff, 1997). Various studies have also shown that the punctured muscles may receive increased blood circulation and oxygenation, reducing the pain associated with these muscle groups (Cagnie et al., 2013).

Monitoring and treating headaches

First, it is important to identify the source of the problem: why are these muscles over-contracted? Are there underlying abnormalities in movemnet at the cervical vertebrae level? Finding the source of your pain will allow us to better address it and prevent the recurrence of persistent headaches. A combination of manual spinal therapy with dry needles can then be very effective. Heat and exercise are also often used to maximize the effects of treatments.

Don’t hesitate to ask one of our trained physiotherapists for details. This service is offered in each of our clinics: