Do you ever hear your child complain that their head hurts? Once we rule out that they are not sick, we often dismiss a child’s headache as them being
tired or even hungry. The truth is, children deal with the same types of headaches as adults. The National Headache Foundation reports that of
all school age children, 20% of them have headaches, including tension type headaches and migraines. There seems to be a genetic link with headaches,
as children are more prone to them if their parents suffer from headaches as well. Headaches are considered chronic in children if they suffer
from them 15 or more days per month.
As in adults, tension type headaches can result from stress, poor posture, irregular or insufficient sleep schedule, missed meals, bullying and self-image
issues. They will complain of pain typically on both sides of their head, and even neck and shoulder soreness that is pressure-like or achy in
nature. They might have difficulty concentrating or show sensitivity to light or sound. These types of headaches can last from 30 minutes to days
at a time. Tension type headaches respond well to stretching, posture changes, relaxation techniques, over-the-counter pain medicine, heat/ice,
and even physical therapy if the headaches are more chronic in nature. A consultation with the child’s pediatrician may be necessary if the headaches
become more severe or frequent in nature.
Migraines in children often bear the same symptoms and triggers as migraines in adults. Head pain is typically on one side of the head and more severe,
stabbing in nature. Migraines are often accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light, sound and touch, dizziness, and aura. These types of headaches
become more common in girls as they approach puberty and hormone levels shift. Migraines are considered chronic in children when they last 4 or
more hours for 15 days or more per month and benefit from consultation with a physician. Physical therapy, diet modification, sleep regulation
and pharmacological options may help children with migraines.
It is important to not overlook or dismiss headache complaints in children, as it is a real and common problem. There are so many options available
to help treat them – be sure to ask the headache specialists at Smith Physical Therapy + Running Academy for help!