Physical Therapy for Headaches

Headaches Overview

Headaches are a common condition that affect millions of people in the United States. Whether it’s a tension headache from stress or a migraine caused by changes in the weather, headaches can greatly impact a person’s daily life. In fact, according to the National Headache Foundation, it is estimated that nearly 90% of all adults will experience a headache at some point in their lives. There are several different types of headaches:


  • Cervicogenic headaches are caused by problems in the neck and can cause referred pain to the head. These types of headaches are often misdiagnosed as tension headaches or migraines.
  • Tension type headaches are caused by tightness and contractions in the muscles of the neck, scalp, and jaw. These types of headaches are often associated with stress.
  • Cluster headaches are intense, one-sided headaches that often occur in clusters and can be very debilitating. They are often misdiagnosed as migraines or sinus headaches.
  • Migraines are often accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, light sensitivity, and vision changes.

How can physical therapy help with headaches?

Physical therapy is an effective treatment option for individuals experiencing headaches. It involves the use of various techniques to relieve pain, improve posture, and increase strength and flexibility in the affected areas.


  • Manual Therapy: This technique involves hands-on techniques to manipulate the soft tissues and joints in the neck and shoulders. It helps to reduce tension and stiffness, which can cause headaches.
  • Exercise: Physical therapy exercises can help to strengthen the muscles in the neck and shoulders, reducing tension and improving flexibility. The exercises can also improve posture and relieve pressure on the neck and shoulders.
  • Posture Correction and Education: Poor posture can contribute to headaches. Physical therapy can help to correct postural imbalances that can cause tension headaches. This can be achieved through exercises and education on proper posture.
  • Heat and Cold Therapy: Heat and cold therapy can be used to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected areas. Heat therapy can be used to relax the muscles, while cold therapy can help to reduce inflammation. While this is not a primary treatment method, it can be a helpful addition.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Stress and tension can contribute to headaches. Physical therapy can teach relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, to help reduce stress and tension.

At Rise Physical Therapy, our experienced team of physical therapists can help you manage your headache symptoms and improve your quality of life. We understand the frustration and discomfort that headaches can cause, and we’re here to help. Our physical therapists will work with you to identify the root cause of your headaches and develop a personalized treatment plan that’s right for you.

Don’t let headaches control your life another day! You deserve to live pain-free and enjoy all the things you love. So, don’t wait any longer – contact us today to schedule an appointment and start your journey to a headache-free life.

About Rise Physical Therapy

Hi, and welcome to Rise Physical Therapy.

Rise exists because we believe there is a demand for honest and ethical therapy that truly makes a difference in people's lives. After years of working in healthcare, we realized that the industry had lost it's focus on the patient. So we decided to start our own clinic and focus on providing our patients the very best in one-on-one physical therapy. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks for swinging by the site, and we hope to see you soon.

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Most common questions about physical therapy

1. What is physical therapy (PT)? – Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, are experts in the musculoskeletal system, meaning we know your muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and how they operate as well as anyone. We play a critical role in the recovery and rehabilitation of the injured, hurting, or those suffering chronic conditions. Becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy (the only type of PTs we hire at Rise), requires over seven years of education.

2. Is PT covered by insurance? Almost all insurance plans give you an annual allowance of PT visits. For our current patients, that has typically meant a copay of around $15-$30/visit. Sometimes it’s lower, or even completely covered by insurance. Depending on your plan you might pay a bit more, such as when your plan has a higher deductible. If you are unsure, give us a call and our insurance experts can help you figure it out. You can reach us at (479) 595-8667.

3. Do you need a doctor’s referral for PT?No referral is needed – you can come straight in to see us without having to go to your doctor. Years ago a referral was required, but studies like this showed it was dramatically more effective and cheaper for patients to be sent to PTs first. The state of Arkansas has not required them for over 20 years (since 1997).

4. Does physical therapy work? – The only question that matters. Here’s what a recent large study found: “In the year following their initial complaint to primary providers, the sample of people in the study who went to physical therapy directly spent an average of $1,871, compared to $6,664 for those who were first sent for an MRI. The patients who received physical therapy first were less likely to receive surgery and injections, and they made fewer specialists and emergency department visits within a year of primary consultation.” [link] So not only does it work, it saves you money over the long run.

5. How much does PT cost? – We actually went ahead and ran the numbers on this one. If you include all of our past patients, the average payment after insurance was $19.25. So anywhere from $15 – $30 is a fairly accurate estimate of how much you’d be looking at paying per visit. That said, some patients actually get PT completely covered by insurance so you may end up paying $0.

6. What is the difference between a PT and a chiropractor? – There are quite a few, but the biggest difference is in the way the professions approach the practice of medicine. Physical therapists strictly use evidence-based (scientific) treatments that are focused on healing the patient permanently rather than temporarily dulling pain. At Rise, we are all about educating you on how to treat and address your issues on your own with stretches and exercises. On the other hand, Chiropractors tend to focus on pain relief techniques like spinal manipulation (adjustment) that are performed on an ongoing basis. It just comes down to what you desire in a treatment.

More questions? Read through the rest of our frequently asked questions here or give us a call at (479) 595-8667.