Do you have a pain in the neck?
We’ve all experienced headaches at one time or another. Did you know that there’s a good chance that what you’re feeling is a cervicogenic headache? This kind of headache is one that actually begins in your neck, but interestingly the symptoms are felt in your head.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of cervicogenic headache are usually a sore or stiff neck, pressure felt in the front and back of your head, jaw tension, dizziness and lightheadedness. The common causes of these kinds of headaches are generally due to joint or muscular dysfunction in your neck, poor posture, tension or stress, or a combination of these. If not treated properly, these common headaches can lead to irritation to the nerves around the base of your neck.
How do I treat a cervicogenic headache?
There are many methods for relieving a headache, but the best possible remedy is to try and prevent them in the first place. (ask your physio for tips on preventing headaches) If you’ve already got one, a visit to the physio is best. Many GPs refer their patients to physios for headaches, as there is good medical evidence for the effective treatment of headaches with gentle manual therapy and tailored exercise prescription.
Your physio is trained to assess and treat the causes of your cervicogenic headache to help you get fast relief – some people even feel relief immediately after their visit.
Specifically, your physio may utilise some of these techniques to reduce your headaches:
- Very specific and local soft tissue massage to the affected area,
- Making sure your workplace setup is ergonomically
- Gentle manual therapy to the neck joints
Why can’t I just take a painkiller?
Taking a pill may well give you some temporary relief, but it will only mask the symptoms and won’t solve the cause of your headache. GPs frequently recommend seeing a physio for headaches as it’s a safe and effective form of treatment, and it doesn’t carry the risks that come with taking opioid based drugs like Panadeine, Nurofen or Codeine. In addition to this, as soon as the effect of the medication wears off, more often than not, the headache will return, as the underlying cause has still not be addressed.
How quickly can I find relief from a headache after seeing a physio?
If your headache is solely caused by neck pain, you might experience instant relief as you walk out of the clinic, or in the following days. Whichever the outcome, the faster you see your physio to address the cause of your headache, the better chance you have of limiting the length and severity of it so you can get back to living life.