Published on February 28, 2018

Essentia Health-St. Mary’s in Detroit Lakes offers new program to reduce chronic headaches and migraines

We’ve all felt deep pressure behind the eyes, throbbing pain in the back of the head or pounding in the forehead. These symptoms often cause us to take medications to dull the pain. For some, the symptoms occur routinely and are debilitating. The World Health Organization estimates 47 percent of the world’s population suffers from headaches. Migraines specifically affect 37 million people in the United States.

For years, treatment options ranged from medication to no treatment at all. At Essentia Health-St. Mary’s in Detroit Lakes, that’s changing. St. Mary’s  has a headache treatment program in its Therapy Department.

As technology has advanced, so has the understanding of how headaches happen. There are many types of headaches and they can be hard to diagnose correctly. Thanks to improved understanding, more effective treatments are available. In the next five to 10 years, physical therapy will be at the frontline and physical therapy at St. May’s is leading the way.

“This is a new and exciting form of medicine for us,” says Therapy Director Rob Hendrickson “We’re taking unconventional methods and getting results.”

The treatments include dry needling, myofascial cupping, tissue mobilization and electrical stimulation.

“Dry needling may look like acupuncture to most, but it’s based on modern western medicine and can be incredibly effective” says Brandon Szklarski, a therapist in the headache treatment program.

Myofascial cupping was in the news when pictures surfaced of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps undergoing the treatment.  Myofascial cupping is when cups are placed on a person’s body, creating a suction on the skin, and then taken off. This can relax the muscles.

Tissue mobilization is when the physical therapist manually adjusts a person’s neck or other parts of the body. Many people are familiar with electrical stimulation in the form of electrical pulse pads you can buy at big box stores, however the technique used at the physical therapist’s office is more advanced.

Headaches can be triggered by a variety of events, including muscle tension, muscle tightness, poor posture, injuries, allergies, stress and smells. The majority are related to problems in the neck, and can cause people to have headaches more frequently, with greater intensity of pain, and symptoms that last for longer durations.

“For those in our community struggling with terrible migraines or chronic headaches, I highly recommend considering the new program,” says Szklarski. “Here, we have an opportunity to help you live a healthier, happier life.”

To learn more, talk to your Essentia Health primary care provider or visit

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