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Old man having a head and neck physio therapy

Neck and Headache Physio

Headaches are one of the most common types of illnesses with many people think are a normal part of life. While headaches are very common, a persistent headache that doesn’t improve over time may indicate that something is wrong.

There are many different causes for persistent headaches. The most common causes include migraine, tension headaches and neck related headaches. Neck-related headaches are commonly referred to as cervicogenic headache.

What is a Cervicogenic Headache?

A cervicogenic headache is often felt on one side of the head. It is sometimes the same side and may not swap sides like a migraine. The pain is usually mild to moderate and is accompanied by neck pain.

What are the Causes of Cervicogenic Headaches?

The causes of a cervicogenic headache are varied. Poor posture can put excessive strain on the upper joints of the neck which can lead to a headache. Particularly when working or sitting in one position for a long time. An injury may also be the cause. This could be a sports injury or a vehicle-related injury. Other causes can be age-related such as osteoarthritis of the upper neck joints.

What are the Symptoms of Cervicogenic Headaches?

The symptoms of cervicogenic headaches can be confusing for patients as they are very similar to other types of headaches. Neck pain is a common symptom associated with migraines, tension and cervicogenic headaches but the neck pain is not always felt even when it is the cause.

What is the Treatment for Cervicogenic Headaches?

It is very important to get the correct diagnosis for your headaches or neck pain, as different causes will require different treatments. Your physiotherapist can assess your neck and take a clinical history to establish a diagnosis. If your presentation is complex your physiotherapist may involve your GP or Neurologist but this is rarely necessary.

Your physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment to determine whether your symptoms fit in with a cervicogenic headache and if there are problems with the muscles or joints in your upper neck.

Physio for neck pain and headaches is extremely effective. Neck physical therapy carefully restores proper movement to joints in the neck and helps to reduce any muscle tension or nerve irritation that may be causing your headaches.

Neck headache treatment through physio can consist of manual therapy, exercises, advice and education for home treatment. Physio for neck pain aims to:

  • Reduce pain
  • Improve moment and flexibility
  • Improve posture
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Reduce associated symptoms such as lightheadedness and unsteadiness

Taking proper care of your neck is important to prevent a problem such as cervicogenic headaches. Neck physical therapy is a great way to reduce uncomfortable symptoms and improve your quality of life. Your physiotherapist will design a treatment program based on your diagnosis and relevant to your needs. Your physio will also teach you how to prevent further problems by improving posture habits and providing home-based exercises that can be incorporated easily into your daily routines. For more information about neck headache treatment, contact the friendly team at Integrity Physio.

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy, Leslie Trigg, has over 13 years of experience in clinical practice. He has graduated with a degree in Human Biology (Anatomy and Physiology) from Curtin University in 2001 and later completed a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2007. He has tremendous experience in musculoskeletal, orthopaedic, neurosurgical and sports physiotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, listening to music and spending time with his family.