Scientific studies show that at least 22% – 25% of adults suffer from cervicogenic headaches (CGH), with females being four times more at risk than men. The headaches are said to be triggered by musculoskeletal impairments around the neck, accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness, light-headedness and suboccipital neck pain.
Pain around the neck or its dysfunction can lead to this type of headache. The neck’s upper 3 joints can refer pain to the base of the skull, the face, head and the temporal region. Jaw and jaw joint pain, sinus pain, visual disturbances, nausea, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and an unsteady gait are also indicators of this condition.
Common Signs of CGH
• Tenderness around the base of the skull or the upper part of the neck
• Unilateral dominant headache
• Stiffness and pain in the neck
• Headache triggered by neck movement or its posture
The good news is any headache resulting from the discomfort of the neck can be managed through physiotherapy.
Physical therapy and CGH
Physiotherapy is one of the best ways of treating secondary headaches, including CGH. It is defined as a mechanical disorder or the disruption of the upper cervical spine linked to the nerve root, joint, soft tissue or the intervertebral disc.
If you are experiencing symptoms linked to this type of headache, consider a consultation with one of our qualified physiotherapists. Several assessments will be carried out around your neck and your head to establish if your condition can be managed through the intervention of physiotherapy. Some of the interventions that could be leveraged include:
This is a form of treatment involving the screening of cervical movement to determine if there are any dysfunctions. Advanced hands-on treatment is then applied, including the manipulation and mobilisation of tight structures, as well as, parts of the neck. With expert application, the normal mechanics of the neck can be restored to minimise and prevent headaches.
Soft Tissue Techniques
Physiotherapy stretches and relaxes the neck muscles, loosening those that may have become tight from chronic postural loading or injuries. A physiotherapist carefully and gently massages the soft tissues whilst also stretching them to help in the management of CGH.
Also referred to as IMS or dry needling, intramuscular stimulation is a deep technique that should only be carried out by a certified physiotherapist, one who has completed the IMS or dry needling certification. It is done to target the area’s leading to the chronic musculoskeletal pain. Fine needles, like those used in acupuncture are inserted in the targeted area to relax tight muscles that could be causing the headache.
Poor posture can trigger CHG. A physiotherapist has the knowledge of its correction, as well as, ergonomics, something that can help in controlling strain. Defined and corrective exercises are one of the most effective cures for CGH.
For many people, headaches are a common and highly devastating problem. What many do not know, however, is that the intervention of physiotherapy can bring much needed relief. If you experience headaches which you believe are caused by the pain emanating from your neck, please consult one of our physiotherapists. The cervicogenic headache treatment targets the source of pain, and this tends to vary from one patient to another. Alongside the mentioned techniques, medications may be prescribed to quicken the results when required.
If this sounds like the symptoms you are currently suffering with, please call us today on (02) 9144 1510 to see how we can help you.