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Cervicogenic Headaches: Causes & Solutions

Posted on 12th November 2016 by

Cervicogenic headaches are the most common secondary type of headaches and are defined as a

“referred pain perceived in any region of the head caused by a primary source in the musculoskeletal tissues innervated by cervical nerves”

In more simple terms, these headaches are caused by a problem within the neck area (or cervicogenic area) hence the name.

This source of pain can be any structure in the neck/head area, including:

  • Cervical joints (the little joints in the neck)
  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Discs

Cervicogenic headaches affect 1-2% of the general population and account for 15-20% of headaches seen within a specialist headache clinic. They tend to affect middle aged people more often, but can occur at any age. They are 4 times more common in women than men.

The pain can either be a dull ache or a more piercing pain, deep within the neck and head. It will often start at the base of the skull and radiate up over the top of the head. This headache can last from a few hours to several days. In some more severe cases, it can be a constant unremitting pain.

They tend to be aggravated by:

  • Neck movements
  • Awkward head positions
  • Sustained postures e.g. sitting at a computer for a long time

Cervicogenic headaches are a common symptom of neck trauma – around 60% of whiplash cases will report cervicogenic headaches.

They are also often associated with additional symptoms:

  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Light or sound sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Referred shoulder & arm pain and even face pain

How we can help

Our speciality is working with joints, bones and muscles. Given that cervicogenic headaches are caused by exactly these structure, seeking help at goPhysio for these types of headaches can be very effective. We would start by thoroughly examining the neck region to find out exactly what may be causing your headaches. We will then put together an active treatment plan which may include:

  • Postural rehabilitation and education
  • Strengthening any weak muscles in the neck & upper back
  • Using hands on techniques to ease any trigger points or tight muscles
  • Mobilising stiff or sore joints

Through working with you, we will aim to ease any immediate issues that are causing you pain or distress but more importantly arm you with the tools to help stop these types of headaches being a frequent part of your life.

Some people find a regular, deep, soft tissue massage with one of our professional massage practitioners can be a highly effective way to keep headaches at bay.

 


The Prevalence of Headaches: Types and Causes

Posted on 10th November 2016 by

We often get patients coming into the clinic suffering with headaches. In this blog, we will look at the prevalence of headaches – what causes them, how they are classified and then will prevalence of headacheslook at some of the more common types of headaches in more detail and how Physiotherapy can help with managing and resolving these.

Most of us have experienced a headache previously – the World Health Organisation has reported that:

  • 75% of adults aged 18-65 have experienced a headache in the last year
  • 47% of adults have experienced an episode of headache disorder – recurrent or prolonged headaches – in the last year
  • Around 30% of adults reported suffering from a migraine in the last year
  • Around 4% of adults report having a headache for over 15 days each month, known as Chronic Daily Headaches

These figures show us that headache disorder is a worldwide issue and they are ranked as the 3rd highest cause of ‘years lost due to disability’. Migraine on its own is the 6th highest cause. Headaches tends to affect women more than men – for example, for every one male reporting Chronic Daily Headaches, three women will be affected.

Headaches can be triggered by a number of factors:

  • Mechanical issues – poor posture, neck position, working habits
  • Hormones – likely why more women report headaches than men
  • Stress levels
  • Medication induced – known as ‘medication overuse’
  • Teeth grinding
  • External factors – smell, bright lights, pressure and humidity

Headaches can also be classified into either primary or secondary.

  • Primary headaches are benign, often recurrent but are not caused by an underlying disease or structural problem. Tension type headaches are the most common type of primary headaches.
  • Secondary headaches are a result of an underlying disease or structural issue, such as infection, head injury, vascular problems or spinal issue. Cervicogenic (neck based) headaches are the most common type of secondary headaches.

Both tension type and cervicogenic headaches are types of mechanical headaches and can be helped greatly with Physiotherapy intervention.

If you suffer with headaches and would like help in tackling them, give us a call on 023 8025 3317 and find out if we can help.