Regular Migraines & Headaches? It Could Be Coming From Your Neck!

Cervicogenic headaches are secondary headaches, meaning they are headaches being caused by something outside of the head itself, cervical = neck, therefore headaches caused by the neck. 

There are two main areas where the neck will drive a headaches; the muscles and/or joints in your neck and shoulders. Your expert Physiotherapist at Leaders Sports & Spine Physiotherapy will be able to help you determine which of these might be the driving factor, and how they should be treated for the best results. 

Cervicogenic Headache Symptoms

  • Unilateral headache, one side of the head
  • Exacerbated by neck movements or postures 
  • Tender to touch through the neck, especially in the upper neck
  • Tenderness through the upper traps and shoulders

Migraine Headaches 

A migraine may present in the above formation, however, generally a migraine headache will be associated with other symptoms, such as a visual aura, blurred vision, pulsating sensation, photophobia, or phonophobia.

The mechanical side of migraine headaches, muscle and joint irritation and pain, can be treated in a similar way to cervicogenic headaches. However, there are other factors that need to be addressed with migraine headaches; such as underlying medical conditions, stress, or anxiety. 

What can cause cervicogenic headaches?

Generally speaking, cervicogenic headaches are caused by some form of trauma to the neck. When we’re talking about trauma in this circumstance, we are not meaning a car accident, or you got hit directly in the neck by a way-ward bird. We’re talking about gradual or instantaneous muscle overload. Maybe you decided you could carry all your groceries in from the car in one arm, because a small child really needed to get to the bathroom! Or maybe you were curled up on the couch binge-watching a new Netflix series, and you were lying in one position with your head turned looking at the TV for 14 hrs straight! 

These two scenarios are the two most common cervicogenic headache presentations that we see here in the clinic at Leaders Sports & Spine Physiotherapy – Brisbane CBD. One thing that we often see with cervicogenic headaches are people trying to push through their pain and get through the day, thinking that a rest at the end of the day or their sleep is going to fix everything. 

Unfortunately, I am here to tell you that one night’s sleep is not going to fix your neck pain, in-fact several night’s sleep is not going to fix your neck pain. Research has shown that leaving your cervicogenic headaches untreated may lead to chronic neck pain, or chronic headaches – nobody wants that. 

Treatment Methods

Now you have decided you should get some treatment, you probably want to know what to expect and what is involved. 

Here at Leaders Sports & Spine Physiotherapy in Brisbane CBD, we take a very pragmatic approach to treating through your neck. In our initial assessment, we will look to determine the primary cause of your neck pain, muscles or joints, along with ruling out any more serious underlying conditions, or nerve irritation involvement. 

From there we will provide you with the best treatment plan for your driving factors, relieving muscle joint pain or spasm through a variety of hands on therapy techniques, along with a home exercise program to help your progress along further. We will talk you through your condition and what was the initial cause might have been, and what are the best steps to relieve any acute pain that may be occuring. 

If you are suffering from cervicogenic headaches, know someone who is, or just have questions, feel free to get in contact with us at Leaders Sports & Spine Physiotherapy.

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