Are You Suffering With Headaches?
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Are you suffering with headaches?

There are a number of different types and causes of headaches. It’s important to classify your headache accurately to be able to provide the correct treatment and where required, imaging and further investigation.

Physiotherapy treatment will help determine the exact cause of your headaches and if they don’t think they are cervicogenic and treatable with physio, they will point you in the right direction (usually off to your GP).

What Are the Different Types of Headaches

Headaches can be classified as primary headaches or secondary headaches.

Common primary headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches


Migraine Headache

A migraine headache is the result of changes within the brain

It causes severe head pain that is often accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound, or smells

 

Tension Headache

A tension headache is generally a diffuse pain that is described as feeling like a tight band around your head

 

Cluster Headache

A cluster headache is a relatively rare but severe type of headache

Usually one- sided, it occurs in cyclical pattern and bouts

 

Secondary headaches are usually a symptom of an injury or an underlying illness. 

Common secondary headaches include sinus, concussion, substance and cervicogenic headaches


Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches occur as the result of pressure or infection in the sinuses

They are associated with pain and pressure in the face/sinuses and are often accompanied by nasal symptoms


Substance Headache

A substance headache includes headaches associated with substance abuse or excess use of medication

‘Hangover’ headaches fall into this category, caused due to the effects of alcohol and dehydration

What Are Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are chronic headaches that originate from the neck and are felt in the side of the head and/or face. 

Typically, the pain will begin in the neck and spread into the back top and/or front of your head, cervicogenic headaches can also refer pain into your eye, or your shoulders.

What Causes Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are caused by disorders in the neck which may involve the joints, discs, ligaments or muscles.

Neck pain and headaches can be caused by prolonged and awkward postures (e.g. sitting at your computer while you work from home) which irritate the upper joints of the neck.  

The neck joints may also be irritated by trauma from a sport injury or a motor vehicle accident.  

In older populations neck pain may be due to degeneration.

 

What Are the Symptoms of Cervicogenic Headaches

Individuals who have cervicogenic headaches will generally experience a headache accompanied by neck pain and stiffness, although even if your neck isn’t sore or painful, you can still experience neck headaches.

In most cases, cervicogenic headaches occur on one side of the head, starting from the neck and/or base of the head, radiating to the head and/or face.

Symptoms of cervicogenic headaches may include:

  • Symptoms typically only on one side of the head
  • Pain in the face or head
  • Pain and in the neck and/or base of head
  • Neck stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion in the neck
  • Pain into the eye, shoulder, arm
  • Increased muscle tightness in the neck

Physiotherapists commonly provide treatment of cervicogenic headaches. Your physio will likely provide hands on treatment to the tight muscles, joints and ligaments using hands on techniques, dry needling and often postural correction.

For more information on treatment of cervicogenic headaches, see our blog: Headaches: Working From Home

 

Individuals should seek medical care if headaches are associated with fever, stiff neck, weakness, change in sensation on one side of the body, change in vision, vomiting, or change in behaviour.

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