A migraine is a severe recurring headache, usually affecting only one side of the head but can be felt across your forehead. Some migraines are preceded or accompanied by sensory warning symptoms or signs (auras), such as flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg.

Associated symptoms:

A migraine may feel like a sharp, throbbing or pounding pain. The migraine can also make you feel light-headed or dizzy, and/or make your stomach upset. Some people may see spots or be sensitive to light, sounds, and smells. Migraines are very painful episodes that often last for hours or up to 2 days. You may experience problems with sleeping, eating, or participating in school, sports or hobbies. Often if you have migraines someone else in your family also suffers from them.

Rehab evaluation:

A physical therapy evaluation includes review of any diagnostic testing including X-rays, MRI, CT scan or blood work done by your doctor. You will need to bring the results to the evaluation appointment. You do not need to bring in the X-rays. Dress your child in clothing they can easily move in and that will allow the therapist to easily look at the neck, back and legs.

The evaluation will begin with a review of medical history including past medical diagnoses, family history of similar problems, injuries or traumatic events, and review of any recent injury or onset of pain. We will discuss in detail how the headache is affecting your child with sleep, participation in school and other activities.

The physical therapist will begin the evaluation by measuring range of motion of the neck, back, arms and legs. The therapist will then assess strength, coordination, balance and endurance. The therapist will watch how your child sits, stands and walks. Included in the exam are “specialty” tests which could include measuring leg length, feeling muscles and bones along their spine, testing reflexes and sensation. At the end of the physical examination the therapist will discuss the results. After this the therapist will discuss a treatment plan. This will include how often your child will be seen and for how long. Sometimes after the exam it is necessary to send your child back to the referring physician for more testing.

Common interventions:

Your physical therapist may be able to help your child better manage their pain and improve with overall health. It is important to follow through with the methods your physical therapist teaches you in order to make progress. It is also important to talk to your therapist if the migraine is getting worse or not improving.

Some methods include:

  • Stretching
  • Strengthening
  • Balance
  • Coordination training
  • Endurance training
  • Postural awareness education
  • Lifting education
  • Positioning for better sleep
  • Education about how to carry a backpack

The therapist may use other treatment during therapy sessions such as heat, ice, TENS (transcutaneous electrical stimulation), kinesiotape, soft tissue massage, myofascial release craniosacral therapy and breathing and relaxation techniques.

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