Headaches make up one of the most common conditions that we see.
- At any given moment, around 15% of Australian’s are taking pain relief medication for a Headache!
- Around 90% of us will experience a headache in our lifetime!
There are many different types and causes of headaches. The most common causes are:
- Side effects of Medication
- Poor Diet
- Lack of Exercise
- Jaw problems
- Tension in the Muscles/Joints of the Neck & shoulders
- Sinus or Ear issues/infections
- High Blood Pressure
1. Tension Headaches
- Tight band-like pressure around the head
- Can be caused by emotional or physical stress
- Also by tension in the muscles of the neck, shoulders & jaw
- Tension headaches are best managed by addressing stress triggers, diet and function of the neck joints & muscles (posture, exercise, habits)
2. Cervical (Cervicogenic) Headaches
- These headaches come from the neck!
- ‘Cervico’ = Coming from Cervical spine = a fancy word for neck
- 10-18% of headaches are this cause
- It can be caused from tension in the neck muscles & joints, particularly in the upper part of the neck, but also down into the lower parts near the upper traps or “shoulder” region
3. Migraine Headaches
- Usually occur on one side of head/around eye & are throbbing in nature
- Can have many triggers, their exact cause is unknown
- Migraines can run in families, but also don’t have to!
- They can occur with or without an Aura (certain symptoms as the migraine builds up)
- Aura symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, photophobia (sensitivity to light) & phonophobia (sensitivity to sound).
It is important to distinguish what type of headache you have so you can get the appropriate treatment.
Remember to always seek the advice of your Health professional on your individual case.
Headaches coming from the Neck (Cervicogenic)
Chiropractors and Manual Therapists (Osteos & Physios) are experienced in treating Headaches which originate from the Neck (Cervical Spine).
What Symptoms Might I be Feeling?
When Headaches are related to Neck pain, symptoms you can feel are:
- Tension around the neck & shoulder muscles (upper traps, suboccipitals, levator scapulae)
- Difficulty turning your head in certain directions (tension in the joints)
- Ache over the front, back or sides (temple area) of your head
- Pain that is worse with movement or neck posture
- Pain in the head usually the same side as the neck pain
- Pain that radiates from the neck into the head
- Tenderness in the upper neck joints when pressed (palpated)
Why Do I Get Cervical Headaches?
- Doing too little (Sedentary Lifestyle)
- Repetitive strain (“Doing too little”) E.g. Sitting all day at work (Student, Accountant), Looking up or down all day (Painter, Electrician)
- Repetitive Poor Posture
- Stress or Emotional strain E.g. Anxiety
- Poor sleep quality or quantity E.g. Insomnia, Shift work
- Or a combination of the factors above
What Treatment does the Fremantle Chiropractor give for Cervical Headaches?
Cervicogenic or Cervical headaches can usually be successfully treated with a combination of treatments:
- Manual Therapy of the Joints (spinal adjustments/manipulations or mobilizations)
- Muscle release (Soft tissue therapy)
- Rehabilitation exercises & stretches
- Advice on posture, sleeping position, work/desk ergonomics (setup position)
- Stress Management
She is also a firm believer that prescribing rehabilitation exercises will:
- Prevent the issue from recurring
She will also give you individual advice on:
- How to set up your workspace
- Sleeping position
- Reducing poor habits with your posture and body
5 Top Tips for Preventing Headaches from the Neck
- Take regular breaks from a seated position
- Increase your daily exercise to at least 30 – 40 mins of moderate level activity
- Increase your water intake
- Add in upper body & neck strengthening exercises into your routine
- Get an appropriate amount of sleep each night (7-9 hours for an adult)