Many people around the world suffer from Cervicogenic headaches, which is the medical term for neck headaches. This basically means a problem in the neck joint is resulting in headaches. Since the neck is the source of the problem, the pain can be alleviated by repairing the neck joint.
There are three upper neck joints which can cause a problem as well as other neurovascular and musculoskeletal structures. If any of these areas aren’t functioning properly they can send pain signals to your brainstem and this can result in a headache.
Since the most common cause of a neck headache is due to the upper neck muscle, nerves or joints this is the area that needs to be focused on the relieve the pain. The joints can cause headaches if they’re either too stiff or too loose. If the neck muscles are weak then they can’t properly support the joints and they may become locked in an abnormal position.
Why visit a physiotherapist?
Physiotherapy for neck headaches is a common solution since a physiotherapist is an experienced when it comes to assessing and treating dysfunctional neck joints. The muscles in the shoulder blades and neck can result in pain if they’re in spasm, knotted, or are overworked. If neck joints are injured then the muscles may overwork themselves in an attempt to protect them. The other neck muscles aren’t being used and this makes them become weak. Neck muscles work the best when they have the proper amount of endurance, power, strength, and rest. A physiotherapist will be able to correction any muscle imbalances which are causing pain.
In addition, upper-neck nerves can sometimes be pinched by things such as swelling, bulging discs and arthritic bone growths. When the nerves are pinched your neck will typically lose its normal range of motion. Neck headaches are sometimes misdiagnosed as other types of headaches such as migraines and this is why it’s important to receive a diagnosis from a professional therapist. The therapist will know what’s causing the problem by examining your symptoms. These often include a tender neck and skull base as well as loss of movement and/or stiffness, pain which travels from the back to the front of the head, pain on one side of the head.
Physiotherapy treatments will typically relieve headache pain immediately. Many patients feel a reduction in pain as soon as pressure is applied to the base of the skull and/or neck. Some people experience neck headaches even though they don’t feel any pain in their neck. This is because their neck joints may not be sore while they’re resting. If your neck joints are tender or sore while resting they usually cause pain when touched or moved.
Since a physiotherapist can correctly identify the cause of your headaches it means you’ll receive the proper treatment. Some therapists specialize in neck headaches and can relieve the pain quickly as well as advise you on how to stop it from returning. MRI’s, CT-scans and X-rays can’t always help diagnosis the cause of a neck headache, but they may help identify structures which could cause neck or head pain. It’s a good idea to undergo cervical spine X-rays if you’ve been suffering from the headaches for an extended period of time.
Physiotherapy treatments for neck headaches
Once the physiotherapist has diagnosed the problem you can then begin treatment for it. If your neck joints are stiff they may be unlocked or loosened by gentle gliding movements known as joint mobilization. In addition, you may undergo localized joint manipulation or traction. If the joints are deemed to be unstable then they will need to be strengthened via deep neck muscle exercises. This will allow the muscles to properly limit and control the movement of the joints.
If the muscles are overactive or tight the treatments may include relaxation techniques such as dry needling, acupuncture, massage, and stretching. A physiotherapist may recommend specific exercises to improve your posture or could suggest a posture brace. Also, the therapist will advise you which awkward and potentially damaging neck postures and positions to avoid. Depending on the causes of the headaches and severity of them, most patients will find their pain gone within just a few days or up to a couple of weeks. And if they follow the advice of their physiotherapist the neck headaches likely won’t return.
Spectrum Physiotherapy is located in Newmarket, Ontario and is the premier physiotherapy clinic in York Region. We offer a range of physio related services which include shockwave therapy, massage and acupuncture treatment.