Headaches can literally be a pain in the neck!
They are frequently caused by joint or muscular dysfunction in the neck, poor posture, emotional tension or a combination of these. Headaches originating from or relating to neck dysfunction can be very successfully treated & prevented by Physiotherapy. Your physiotherapist can address the underlying causes of your headaches and help you avoid them in the future.
What is a Cervical Headache?
Cervical headaches are headaches caused by abnormalities in the neck and head region. The cause of headaches can be referred from the upper cervical nerve roots, segments of the cervical spine which can irritate some of the sensory nerves. Headaches can also be caused by trigger points in the neck and head muscles.
These headaches may present as:
- Pain & tension in the neck
- Pain, ache & pressure in the forehead and back of the head
- Tension in the temple and jaw area
- Pain that is made worse with sustained and repeated postures and movement of the neck
- A headache with a feeling of light headedness or dizziness
How Physiotherapy can help:
Physiotherapy treatment can assess and treat any abnormalities found in the joints, muscles and neural structures. As well as education on posture and work practices.
Posture correction – Recommendations via specific exercises, posture awareness techniques, taping or a posture brace.
Stretching – Stretching of the neck and shoulder muscles can help alleviate headaches.
Stress and tension management – Identification and reduction of the sources of stress and tension need to be incorporated. Often this leads to tightness in the upper back and neck muscles.
Soft tissue work and massage – Your physiotherapist may use various massage and techniques to help release the muscles in your neck and upper back.
Dry Needling – Dry Needling is the placement of very thin needles into specific locations in the body, it is very effective to help alleviate headaches.
Workplace / ergonomic assessment – A poor chair, a desk at the wrong height or computer at the wrong angle may result in poor posture contributing to neck strain. Your Physiotherapist can advise on office and workplace set up.
Decrease Neural Tension – Abnormal neural tension can also contribute to cervical headaches. Your physiotherapist will assess this and provide appropriate exercises as needed.
What Results Should You Expect?
If your headache is solely caused by neck pain, it is common to experience instant relief as you walk out of the clinic.
Depending on the severity of the headache and what the specific underlying causes are, most sufferers will resolve their headache within days or a few weeks. In addition to relieving your headaches, additional physiotherapy treatment will assist you to address the underlying causes and help you avoid headaches in the future.