LOMBARD – Denise Schneider loves headaches.
Of course, the dull aches and the throbbing pains are never fun, but for Schneider, a physical therapist with Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers, headaches present an opportunity for her to use specialized treatment methods to bring about relief for her patients.
“I treat a lot of special patients for more severe things like headaches, dizziness or people who have had physical therapy and not gotten better,” she said.
The 39-year-old Lombard resident is a licensed physical therapist and a fellow with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy. She can perform all the work of a physical therapist, but has specialized training and often works with patients who have lingering pain, discomfort or other problems after receiving previous physical therapy or working with physicians.
With Accelerated, she runs the group’s headache program out of its Schaumburg location, and many of the migraines or chronic headaches people experience, she believes can be treated through physical therapy.
“A lot of (headache patients) have been to a lot of healthcare providers, and they haven’t received the specialized treatment,” she said. “They fall through the cracks somehow.”
When Schneider first meets with patients, she gives them an extensive exam and review of medical history. This gives her an understanding of what could be causing the headaches.
She uses a variety of techniques to treat patients, including soft tissue massages, neck muscle exercises, joint-specific mobilizations and exercises that teach proper head placement. Overwhelmingly, the results have been positive, she said.
Schneider said her interest in studying and treating headaches stems from her interest in the spine, and one of her favorite types of headaches to treat is a cervicogenic headache, which typically starts at the neck and radiates through the head.
As the leader of Accelerated’s headache program, Schneider works with 29 other physical therapists throughout the group to provide them with research, findings and information about using physical therapy techniques to treat head pain.
The group also networks with local physicians to educate them about the physical therapy options for headache patients. If the patients still are experiencing pain after working with physicians on chronic headaches, then they often are referred to a physical therapist for additional treatment, she said.
It was several years ago that Schneider first started working with chronic headache patients. She relied on her previous professional experience and research to develop a program that helped the people coming to her. Today, she has learned to build on those results and findings to help more people.
“I realized the techniques really, really work, and I just started using them on all of my headache and migraine patients,” she said. “All of the treatment is based on results.”