headaches can come from your neck... they are called Cervicogenic Headaches. Learn a bit about them to see if you are suffering, and how to help.

What are Cervicogenic Headaches?

Headaches are very common and unfortunately too many Australians believe that they are a normal part of life and simply resort to using painkillers. Frequent headaches should be viewed as alarm bells that signify something is wrong and constantly reaching for the medication draw is the equivalent to ignoring the engine light on your car.

Headaches come in many forms, however the most common type of headache seen in office workers and those who use computers are actually referred from the neck (the cervical spine).

These are known as Cervicogenic Headaches. 

Signs and Symptoms

  • headaches that radiate from the back of the head towards the front
  • headaches behind the eye or in the temple
  • normally worse on one side of the head
  • may be provoked with certain neck movements
  • may be relieved when pressure or massage is applied to the neck or base of the skull
  • can occur at night or when you wake up, especially if you sleep on your stomach 

What causes them?

Cervicogenic headaches are predominantly caused by spending long hours in front of a computer/television/phone or other devices with poor posture, especially when combined with stress and/or anxiety.

These factors cause tension to develop in the upper neck joints and the surrounding muscles, which can then refer pain into the head as the nerves that originate in your neck also supply your face and head.

A common example of this referral mechanism is how people describe left arm pain when experiencing a heart attack. 

What can you do to help?

This type of pain is something you shouldn't ignore. If left untreated, you can cause chronic pain, and even cause the joints to have an increased level of wear and tear leading to arthritis. If you can't FULLY sort out the pains, you should consult your physio as soon as possible.

In the meantime you can try a few different things, done GENTLY to try and give your neck some relief, which might help your headaches. 

  • gentle rotations side to side a few times a day to stretch the joints and muscles
  • gentle massage to the back of the neck
  • heat packs to try and relax the muscles

How can we help?

As Physio's we are EXPERTS at treating this condition. If you suffer, DON'T suffer in silence... come in straight away and we can use our expert skills to help you get this issue sorted out. 

We will also give you exercises to make sure you can help with making sure it doesn't come back! 

  • Soft Tissue Massage of tight neck and shoulder muscles to improve flexibility, reduce tension, and stop pain referring into the head. This can be combined with specific stretches to help prevent muscle tension returning.
  • Acupuncture / Dry Needling to help relieve pain and deactivate referring trigger points. This can also be used in combination with Electrotherapy if indicated.
  • Joint Mobilisations / Manipulation (Adjustments) of the neck and upper back to help improve posture and restore normal spinal movement.
  • Postural Muscle Retraining for the neck and back muscles to prevent recurring headaches.
  • Kinesio-Taping to improve posture and assist the retraining of postural muscles.  
  • Postural Re-Education will involve teaching you the optimal sitting / standing positions specific to your occupation to reduce strain on your neck and shoulders.
  • We can even come to your workplace for an Ergonomic Assessment to address any specific issues with your workstation. 

Are you feeling tired and frustrated of constantly having headaches? Are you sick of having to rely on painkillers to get you through a normal work day? Research shows that physiotherapy is proven to be an effective way of treating headaches.

See an expert at Swan Physiotherapy now and take back control of your life!

If you are in pain and need to get this fixed ASAP… book online now!

Remember: We have a FREE ASSESSMENT, so you don't have to pay for a treatment if its something we can't help with.

Alternatively, if you are still unsure whether physiotherapy is right for you… request a FREE Telephone Consultation from one of our expert Physiotherapists to discuss your best options.  


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