What are cervicogenic headaches?
Cervicogenic headaches describes a headache which is caused by irritation or dysfunction in your neck. These headaches can be caused by a number of issues within the neck including muscles, joints, nerves or ligaments in the neck. Typically, the area of concern is in the upper neck region. Each presentation is different and is typically a combination of issues to muscles, joints, nerves and ligaments in the upper neck.
How do these headaches present?
Common features of these headaches can be a constant dull ache. It will typically feel like it is coming from the base of your skull, the front of your face or behind your eyes. It can be felt on one or both sides of your head or even like a tight band around your head. As these types of headache originate from issues in your neck, it is common to feel some discomfort or restriction in your neck prior to headaches coming on. It is also common to feel that certain head and neck postures can influence your pain. It is also possible to feel dizzy, light headed or even nauseated when these headaches occur.
How can physiotherapy help cervicogenic headaches?
Firstly, it is important to recognise that there are numerous causes of headaches and it is important to determine whether issues in your neck are causing yours or whether it is being caused by other issues. A qualified physiotherapist can assess you and determine whether you are experiencing cervicogenic headaches and determine the factors influencing your pain. A full neck assessment and posture screen needs to be done so the best type of treatment can be tailored for you. Common treatments to assist in your acute cervicogenic headache symptoms can include posture education, joint mobilisations to target any restriction of movement in the neck joints and soft tissue release of the neck muscles. To ensure treatment is also focussed on the root cause a movement and strength assessment should be done. Strengthening of the deeper muscles of the neck along with muscles extending out to your shoulders can decrease the stress on your neck joints and help to improve your posture, in effort to prevent future headaches.
If you think you may be experiencing cervicogenic headaches, appointments with our physiotherapists can be made by phoning 8850 7770.