Could Your Neck Be Causing your Headaches?
Updated: Feb 4
Physical Therapy for Headaches
If you’ve been suffering from chronic headaches, you may feel hopeless in finding lasting relief. Not only is the pain hard to deal with but the things that really matter in life: running with a friend, gardening on a Saturday morning or playing with your children, end up being chores and not joy filled moments that bring you life.
I find that patients often put headaches into two categories: severe (migraines) and non-severe (those that aren't migraines). In truth, there are 3 main types of headaches: migraine, tension type and cervicogenic. While migraine and tension-type are well known, cervicogenic headaches (meaning a headache caused by pain in your neck) are more common than thought and a type of headache I often see in the clinic.
What Does A Cervicogenic Headaches Look like?
Cervicogenic headaches have a distinct look and presentation. Some common symptoms may include:
1) Pain on one side of the head which often begins at the back of the head and radiates up to behind the eye
2) Headaches that are brought on while in prolonged static postures such as:
-sitting at your desk/computer
-yoga positions such as downward dog and chaturanga while your neck is in a ‘funky’ position
3) Headaches that occur with pain or stiffness in the neck at the same time
How can I calm down this headache (and get my life back!) ?
The good news? While cervicogenic headaches can be extremely painful, research has shown that a manual physical therapist who specializes in headaches can have a profound effect on the pain and quality of life. A combination of manual (hands on) therapy such as direct myofascial work, spinal manipulation and therapeutic exercise has been shown to be a highly effective treatment.
Work with a Physical Therapist who specializes in Headaches and Neck Pain
At Gate City Physio, our treatment will typically include such specialized manual therapy, along with therapeutic exercises. We even take a look at your sleep and stress patterns as part of our interdisciplinary approach.
All the elements of this more comprehensive method collectively cooperate, helping to unload and mobilize the joints. This in turn reduces pressure and pain potential in the neck and head. It’s a simple-yet-strategic system that works.
If you are experiencing headaches or neck pain, please reach out to me directly and let's get you back to enjoying your life!
Dr. Corey Hillman is a Physical Therapist and owner of Gate City Physio – a boutique physical therapy clinic in Downtown Greensboro. He specializes in helping individuals suffering from jaw pain, headaches and neck pain regain their freedom and get back to enjoying the little things in life.