Unravelling the Mystery: How Your Neck Might Be Causing Your Headaches
Have you ever considered that the nagging headache you can't seem to shake might be caused by something other than … red wine… chocolate… hormones?
The culprit could be your cervical spine- aka your neck!!.
Most days I am told by someone that they have been having ongoing headaches and migraines. Many have had multiple scans and taking a lot of medication. Often this has been ongoing for years! True migraines are really debilitating. But is it always just a chemical imbalance in your brain setting off the pain?
Most headaches sit somewhere on the continuum between a cervicogenic (neck) headache and a migraine. Having the option to reduce the pain by treating your neck can be game changing for people’s lives.
Understanding the Cervical Spine-Headache Connection
1. The Role of Muscles and Joints: The neck is a complex network of muscles and joints. Poor posture, prolonged screen time, or even stress can lead to muscle tightness and joint irritation in the neck. This tension can result in pain that radiates upwards
into your head, manifesting as a headache.
2. Nerve Pathways: The top of the cervical spine is a nerve centre, where many nerve pathways converge. If any of these nerves are irritated, they can send pain signals to your head.
3. Referred Pain: Sometimes, pain is felt in a location different from its actual source,known as referred pain. A classic example is a cervicogenic headache, where the source of the headache is in the neck, but the pain is felt in the head.
What Does This Mean for You?
Understanding this connection is vital, especially if you're someone who frequently experiences headaches. It opens up new options for relief and treatment. A thorough assessment and treatment by a physio to help determine the cause, changes in posture and neck exercises could make a significant difference.
If you're suffering from persistent headaches, consider it might be coming from your neck.
Treatment directed at your neck might hold the key to alleviating your pain and it will be a simple way to help diagnose if your pain is a cervicogenic headache (caused by the neck).
A balanced approach involving hands on treatment, exercises and professional advice can offer much-needed relief.
Remember, your headache may be caused by your neck!
To organise a time to assess your ongoing headaches book online or call the practice 0263523131.
The grasses are growing with the warm weather and rain we have been having, and lots of people are out making hay.
This means people are out on tractors, trucks and headers looking backwards, and often doing this one sided, causing neck pain.
So what can you do?
- Sit taller with good posture (no slouching)
- Try and change up the direction you are looking back so it’s not the same side all the time
- Do some gentle neck stretches (ear to shoulder)
- Get out of the tractor more often (try every hour or so) to move your body around
I am treating a large number of people at the moment that have come to us after putting up with headaches for years. So how do you know if you need physio or migraine medication?
It’s tricky as many people have migraines that have some component from the neck, and some have neck headaches that mimic migraines.
An easy way to start thinking about it is to ask:
Not always will these mean that it is from your neck (cervicogenic) but it’s a good place to start.
Many of my clients are coalminers that have problems when looking up for long periods of the shift or sitting on an IMCO, looking one way or another whilst driving. (I still haven’t worked out why the seat can’t spin around). Or, when they go home they sit on the lounge with their head turned slightly one way for an extended period of time - (NB check your TV set up or don’t sit for long or preferably both). Lack of sleep, exercise and a poor diet can also contribute to ongoing pain.
So what can you do about it?
If your headaches and neck pain continue and you’ve tried those simple tricks, a physiotherapy assessment can determine if it is from your neck. It’s a quick and simple way to screen your headaches. If we are worried about anything, we will send you back to your Dr for scanning/medication.
Approximately 80-90% of people with headaches originating from their neck will get relief from physio. So, don’t put up with it any longer.
Your partner will be happy and so will your head.