Is your headache a pain in the neck?
More than two thirds of the population suffer from headaches arising from the neck. For many, feelings of pain and tension start at the top of the neck. As the tension worsens, it may spread to the back of the head, the temples, forehead, or behind the eyes. Movement of the neck or bending the head forwards for a long time tends to make it worse.
Headaches that are often self-diagnosed as 'stress' related can often be the result of neck disorders This can happen because the nerves in the upper part of the neck run into the head and face. A problem with the upper neck joints or overlying muscles can cause referred pain to the head.
Here is a quick check list for symptoms that may be caused by a neck disorder:
- Headache associated with neck pain - does the pain radiate from the back to the front of your head?
- Headache with dizziness or light headedness.
- Headaches brought on or worsened by neck movement or by having the head in the same position for a long time.
- Headaches which are usually on one side of your head.
- Headaches eased by pressure to the base of the skull.
- Headaches which persists after your doctor has checked for other causes.
Physiotherapists are able to assess whether your neck is the cause of your headaches. Treatments such as mobilisation, manipulation, electrotherapy, heat, remedial exercise and massage can alleviate headaches caused by a neck problem.
Physiotherapists emphasise the importance of self-help to correct problems with posture and lifestyle to prevent headaches recurring. Problems with posture at work and in your home environment often contribute to on-going problems.
Marc Di Paolo