Headaches: Sometimes They Are Caused By Your Neck

Cervicogenic Headaches – What Are They?
Cervicogenic Headaches – What Are They?

How many times have you had headaches and thought enough is enough? How many times has that pounding in your head, distracting you when you are at work?

Headaches not only affect you at work, but they affect you at home too; remember getting annoyed at your roommate, spouse and kids? Well, your life should not be consumed by all this! There are many reasons why people may experience headaches; One of the most common reasons is the neck.

Headaches are universal to all of us and despite it being such a common problem, unfortunately, it is not a very well understood condition due to there being many different causes of headaches. Fortunately, cervicogenic headaches are well known by physiotherapists, and thus we are well-equipped to assist you in treating them.

Cervicogenic Headaches – What Are They?
What Are Cervicogenic Headaches?

Cervicogenic (or Cervical) Headaches are headaches that have a correlation to neck pain. Oftentimes, if we have any neck pain or issues in our cervical spine, we might also experience a headache on the same side of the neck pain.

For example, if we have pain on the left side of our neck, we might experience a headache on the left side as well.

Your physiotherapist may ask whether the headache comes on when the neck pain is aggravated to see if the two are related or not.

What Causes Cervicogenic Headaches?

A cervicogenic headache can only occur if there is involvement with the cervical spine as well. That is, the headache is a consequence of any pain or issue with the neck.

Factors that may contribute to cervicogenic headaches include:

- Poor posture

- Abnormal or poor movement patterns

- Using an old pillow

- Stress

- Diet

- Hormonal changes

What Are Common Symptoms of Cervicogenic Headaches?

People who suffer from cervical headaches will often experience the following symptoms: 

- A headache that is felt only on one side and does not change sides

- Restricted neck movement

- Pain reproduced when the neck is moved or when external pressure is applied to the neck

- Neck, shoulder and/or arm pain is present on the same side of the headache

How We Can Treat Cervical Headaches?

Your physiotherapist is able to help treat and manage your cervical headaches. There is strong evidence that shows physiotherapy as an effective treatment option for treating cervicogenic headaches.

Your treatment plan may include:

- Gentle mobilisation and soft tissue massage

- Dry needling

- Addressing any posture related issues in your neck

- Providing advice on appropriate pillows

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