Headaches are a pain in the neck!

headaches and neck pain

This month we are talking about the common problem of headaches. Tearing, stabbing, pulsating, piercing, blinding, sharp, throbbing, aching pain and vice like pressure are just some of the common superlatives used to describe a headache. You know the feeling, we’ve all had it. In fact, at least half of the adult population have experienced at least one headache in the past year.

“Headache on more than 15 days a month affects 2-4% of the world’s adult population.”

Most of our headaches are thankfully short lived and related to stress, over-indulging, poor or lack of sleep, allergies, food, and environmental triggers, dehydration and even exercise.

Many though are constant, lasting many days or weeks and debilitating with repeating episodes and these are commonly the type we treat at the practice.

The most common is the Tension Headache which can occur on both sides of the head, temple, and neck, are usually mild to moderate and feel like a tight band around the head. The cause is usually stress, anxiety, lengthy periods of reading and concentration, lack of sleep, eye strain, muscle strain and sprains of the jaw, upper neck, or cervical spinal joints.

“Headaches are the sixth highest cause worldwide, of years lost to disability.”

A Cervicogenic Headache is when the pain can be felt with movement in the neck or pressure on the neck muscles and joints. The pain can be mild to severe and usually one sided in the head and neck. It usually originates from the spinal joints at the top of the neck with the most common under the scalp and tightness in the trapezius muscle which can be felt between the shoulder blades and up to the top of the scalp.

If you’re nodding because you relate to this book an appointment here >

These two types of headaches should not be confused with a Migraine Headache where the head pain is one-sided and associated with other symptoms including vomiting, nausea, temporary vision loss, sensitivity to light and sound and flashing lights. Treatments of Migraines can be different from other headaches in that they may need more targeted prescription medicines and avoidance of triggers such as alcohol or caffeine.

15% of Australians are taking pain-relieving medication for headaches at any given time.

Our treatments for Tension and Cervicogenic type headaches include initially identifying the structures that are referring the pain into the head and then relaxing and stretching those affected muscles and joints. Heat can be especially useful in relaxing and loosening these muscles and joints.

Usually, Tension and Cervicogenic headaches that are hard to budge are because of the inability to loosen the joints at the top of the neck, weakness of the muscles around the neck and poor posture.

Specialized techniques combining both manual `hands on therapy` along with targeted strengthening exercises and a complete assessment of your postural stressors including sleeping, sitting, and standing positions are required.

Call us on 9670 3996 at Elizabeth Street Physiotherapy or book an appointment if you are suffering from headaches or neck pain.