Is Your Neck Causing Your Headache?

If you suffer from persistent, recurring headaches, it may be your neck that’s the culprit – you don’t even have to have neck pain!

Cervicogenic or neck related causes of headache are commonly overlooked which can leave patients suffering for years, juggling paracetamol and heat packs.

Osteopaths are well versed  in assessing and treating neck related headaches. Headaches caused by the structures of the neck are often one-sided, with pain usually arising at the base of the skull and referring to the temple, forehead or eye region. However pain can be present in the eye/head region alone. Pain can be aggravated by neck movement or sustained postures and is often eased by manual pressure to the base of the skull or stretching and massaging the neck.

It has been well demonstrated that structures in the neck can refer pain to the head. This is because there is considerable overlap in the spinal cord between the nerves that start in the top of the neck (C1-C3) and those that provide sensation to the face and head (CNV). If these nerves are irritated by stiff joints and muscles in the neck, they can cause pain in the head, face and jaw.

Our Osteopaths will thoroughly assess your neck and headaches. They will ask specific questions to rule out other causes of headaches. They will then feel and assess the structures of your neck to decide if they may be causing your headache. If the neck structures are involved, we will usually find:

  • Tight and painful structures in your neck (joint and muscle)
  • Pressure or tension on specific structures of your neck will reproduce your head pain
  • A forward head posture and stiff mid to upper back
  • Reduced motion in the upper joints of the neck
  • Reduced endurance in the deep muscles of the neck
woman has neck pain
a picture of a young woman with headache over white background
neck pain

Osteopaths may use a combination of gentle mobilisation and manipulation of the neck joints to encourage movement, massage  to reduce muscle tension & spasm & targeted exercises for the deep muscles of the neck.

Osteopaths help with the management of headaches by addressing the underlying aggravating factors. Osteopaths may use:

  • A combination of gentle manipulation of the neck joints
  • Massage to reduce muscle tension & spasm
  • Specific exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the neck and upper back can also be prescribed to prevent excessive tension from developing in the joints and soft tissues of the neck
  • Advice concerning work desk ergonomics, postural correction
  • Relaxation methods to help with stress management

Headaches do not have to be something you live with on a day to day basis, so consult our Osteopaths to see what you can do to prevent these from occurring.

Want to know more?

You can learn more about the MOH approach to headaches by checking out the blogs linked below;

For more information, ideas and exercises check out our Health Tips blog.

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