Understanding and Treating Cervicogenic Headaches
Issues within the neck joints often lead to neck headaches, also recognised as cervicogenic headaches. Manifesting at the base of the skull or upper neck, clinical evidence suggests that neck headaches account for 4% to 22% of all clinical headache cases. Unlike migraines, neck headaches respond to neck-based physiotherapy, often providing instant pain relief or change.
Identifying Symptoms of a Neck Headache
If you experience neck stiffness, tenderness, and limited movement, you might be suffering from a neck headache. A headache physiotherapist should evaluate and diagnose your condition. While imaging tests alone cannot confirm this headache type, they can reveal the neck structures that may be causing your pain. When physiotherapy doesn’t resolve the issue, further testing might be necessary to pinpoint and address other types of headaches.
The Experience of a Cervicogenic Headache
You may recognise a cervicogenic headache by pain that begins at the skull’s base and travels towards the front of the head. Neck movements, specific postures, or turning the head can trigger or alleviate the headache, which typically persists on one side of the head. Neck pressure or massages might offer temporary relief. Consult a physiotherapist if these symptoms sound familiar to discuss diagnosis and treatment options.
Diagnosing Your Headache for Effective Treatment
Distinguishing neck headaches from migraines is crucial for proper treatment. A healthcare professional experienced in diagnosing cervicogenic headaches will evaluate your symptoms and medical history, possibly recommending additional tests to exclude other conditions.
Duration of Neck Headache
The length of a neck headache varies with its cause and treatment effectiveness. Durations can range from hours to months. Even if your neck feels normal, you could experience a headache, so consult a physiotherapist for a thorough evaluation, especially if persistent head pain is a concern.
Role of Imaging in Diagnosing Neck Headaches
Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, can identify structural neck issues but not diagnose neck headaches specifically. If head pain persists, cervical spine X-rays, coupled with a physical exam and clinical history, can inform your treatment plan. Your physiotherapist will advise on the necessity of these tests.
Multifaceted Cervicogenic Headache Treatment
Effective relief from cervicogenic headaches often requires a multi-modal approach, especially if a single treatment modality proves ineffective.
Neck Headache Physiotherapy
Persistent Headaches: Next Steps
Inform your physiotherapist if your headache continues despite treatment. They will re-evaluate your treatment plan and may refer you to a specialist neurologist or recommend further testing to identify and treat the headache’s root cause.
Remember, determining the underlying cause of your headache can be intricate, but your physiotherapist will steer you toward the most effective treatment.
In summary, if you’re grappling with a persistent headache, it’s critical not to ignore the symptoms. With a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment, physiotherapy offers a promising path to relief and recovery. Don’t let neck pain and headaches diminish your quality of life. Our dedicated team of physiotherapists is ready to assess, diagnose, and create a tailored treatment plan just for you.
Book Your Appointment Today
Take the first step towards a pain-free life. Contact us now to book an appointment and let us help you move beyond the pain of cervicogenic headaches. Your journey to wellness begins with the right care—book for your assessment today.
- What’s Causes Cervicogenic Headache? – This article explores the treatment plans for cervicogenic headaches and emphasises the importance of addressing the underlying causes.
- Cluster Headaches – Discusses different types of headaches, including cervicogenic headaches, and offers insights into neck-related headaches and their treatment.
- Headache Causes – A comprehensive article that covers various types of headaches, including neck headaches, and provides FAQs about cervicogenic headaches.
- Severe Headache Symptoms: Urgent Red Flags & Care – Focuses on headache symptoms and includes information on various treatment methods like ice and heat applications.
- Effective Cervical Facet Joint Pain Management – While focusing on cervical facet joint pain, this article is relevant due to the neck’s involvement in cervicogenic headaches.
- Tension-Type Headaches – Relevant due to the connection between neck issues and tension-type headaches, often confused with cervicogenic headaches.
- TMJ Headaches – Includes information on TMJ headaches, which can be related to cervicogenic headaches due to the involvement of neck muscles and posture.
- Migraine vs Headache – Offers a comparative analysis of migraines and headaches, which is useful for understanding cervicogenic headaches in the broader context of headache disorders.
- Neck Strengthening – What Specific Exercises To Do & Why – Relevant for readers seeking to strengthen neck muscles, potentially reducing the risk of cervicogenic headaches.
- Neck Posture Correction – The importance of good posture, which is a key factor in preventing and managing neck-related headaches.
Headaches and migraines can stem from a variety of factors. These include conditions related to the neck and jaw. Some specific types you might experience are neck, tension, cluster, and migraines.
Neck-related issues like neck pain, facet dysfunction, and pinched nerves can also lead to headaches. Additionally, jaw conditions such as TMJ pain and dysfunction can cause jaw headaches.
Headache Symptoms Differ
Identifying a headache's location, duration, and intensity can help pinpoint potential causes and effective treatments. This information isn't definitive but helps distinguish possible headache or migraine types.
Common Headache Types
Tension-type headaches usually feel like a band across the forehead, extending into the neck. They are continuous, non-pulsating, and may be accompanied by neck or shoulder tenderness, but not nausea or increased sensory sensitivity.
TMJ or jaw-related headaches are localised around the jaw and ear, affecting one side. They often come with jaw movement issues, chewing difficulties, or sensations of clicking, locking, and catching in the jaw. TMJ physiotherapists and your dentist are good practitioners to start with to assess and treat your TMJ headache.
Neck headaches (cervicogenic headaches) are typically a steady, non-throbbing pain at the skull's base, around one eye, or over the top of the head. They may also involve limited neck mobility, but this is not essential. your physiotherapist is best person to see for assessing and relieving your neck headache.
Cluster headaches are intensely concentrated around one eye. Accompanying symptoms can include a runny nose, drooping or reddened eye, or increased facial perspiration.
Concussion-related headaches resemble migraines with a throbbing sensation and are closely linked to concussions. If these headaches worsen, or if symptoms like slurred speech, seizures, or unusual behaviour occur, seek medical attention immediately.
Sinus headaches are characterised by pain, pressure, or fullness from the sinuses, often worsening when bending forward or lying down. They can also cause toothache-like pain or nasal congestion.
Migraines often affect one side of the head, involving the entire side of the head and face. They can occur with or without visual disturbances (aura) and include symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light and noise.
The causes of headaches and migraines vary, as do their treatments. Consult a healthcare practitioner such as your physiotherapist or doctor for accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plans. Understanding these differences is essential for effective headache management and relief.
- Migraine vs Headache
- Specific Migraine - Headache Types
- Neck Headache
- Tension Headache
- Cluster Headaches
- Vestibular Migraine
- TMJ Headache
Article by John Miller
Experiencing a Headache or Migraine?
Understand Your Options
Headaches and migraines are more than just a nuisance; they can significantly disrupt your daily life. When you start experiencing these symptoms, it's imperative to seek medical advice. Doctors often recommend neurological assessments and may suggest a CT or MRI scan. These scans are vital for excluding serious conditions like aneurysms or tumours. Most of the time, fortunately, the results are normal.
What to Do When Your Scans Are Clear
Getting a clear scan result brings a sigh of relief, eliminating concerns about serious underlying causes. Yet, the task of identifying the source of your headaches or migraines remains.
Identifying the Root Cause of Your Headache
At PhysioWorks, we understand that diagnosing the root cause of headaches is a key step in treatment. We primarily focus on three types of headaches:
Understanding Neck-Related Headaches
Researchers feel that about one in four headaches is linked to neck issues. A thorough neck examination by a skilled headache physiotherapist is crucial. In many cases, the physiotherapist can diagnose and begin treating your neck headache from the first consultation.
Neck Headache: A Deeper Insight
Neck headaches, or cervicogenic headaches, often originate from neck joints, muscles, or ligaments. Symptoms include pain starting at the back of the head, radiating forwards, neck stiffness, and sometimes shoulder or arm pain. Physiotherapy techniques like manual therapy, specific exercises, and posture correction can provide significant relief.
Related article: Neck Headaches
Tension-Type Headaches: Understanding and Management
Tension-type headaches, marked by a band-like pain around the head, are frequently associated with stress, poor posture, and muscular tension. Physiotherapy plays a critical role in managing these headaches, offering stress-reduction techniques, ergonomic advice, and exercises to improve posture and muscle function.
Related article: Tension-Type Headaches
TMJ Headaches: The Role of Physiotherapy
TMJ headaches, stemming from jaw joint and muscle issues, present symptoms like facial pain, jaw clicking, and chewing difficulties. Physiotherapists, with a skillset in jaw disorders, offer specialised exercises, manual therapy, and advice to improve jaw function.
Related article: TMJ headaches
Latest Research and Developments
Recent studies underscore the effectiveness of physiotherapy in headache management. Techniques such as dry needling, acupuncture, specific neck and shoulder exercises, posture correction, and relaxation strategies have shown promise in reducing the frequency and intensity of headaches.
Conclusion: Seeking Professional Help
Managing headaches and migraines often requires a targeted approach. Physiotherapy offers a range of treatments customised to your needs. If headaches or migraines are affecting your life, consider consulting a qualified headache physiotherapist. This could be a significant step towards a pain-free life. However, always start with a doctor's consultation to exclude any serious underlying conditions.
Call to Action: Consult a Professional
Don't let headaches dictate your life. Reach out to a headache physiotherapist or your doctor today to embark on your journey to recovery and improved quality of life. Remember, investing in your health is paramount.
What to Do? Seek Professional Advice from Your Physiotherapist
If you're struggling with headaches or migraines, the first step is to consult a physiotherapist specialised in headache management. They can provide a comprehensive assessment and tailor a treatment plan suited to your specific needs, incorporating the latest research and techniques. Booking a consultation can be your first step towards finding relief and regaining control of your life.
For more details on specific headache types, migraine comparisons, and frequently asked questions, visit our website for comprehensive guides on: