Headaches are often caused by disorders of the neck or physical and emotional tension. Physiotherapists can successfully treat headaches originating from the neck or soft tissues and show you how to prevent the pain from occurring.
Is your headache really a neck ache?
For many people, headaches start as pain or tension at the top of the neck. As the pain worsens, it may spread to the back of the head, the temples, and forehead or behind the eyes. Moving the neck or bending forward for a long time tends to make it worse. This happens because the nerves in the upper part of your neck are connected to the nerves in your head and face. A disorder of the upper neck or muscles can cause referred pain to your head.
Any of the following points could suggest that your neck may be causing the headache:
- Does the pain radiate from the back to the front of your head?
- Headache with dizziness or light-headedness
- Headache brought on or worsened by neck movement or staying in the same position for a long time
- Headache which always feels worse on the same side of your head Headache eased by pressure to the base of the skull
- Headache which persists after your doctor has checked for other causes.
How physiotherapy can help
Physiotherapists are experts in posture and human movement. They will be able to determine if your neck is causing or contributing to your headaches.
Physiotherapists may use:
- Functional and rehabilitative exercises
- Encouraging normal activity
- Postural assessment, correction and advice
- Relaxation therapy
- Laser, ultrasound, electrotherapy and heat treatment
Your physiotherapist can also offer your self-help advice on ways to correct the cause of headaches, such as practical ergonomic tips for work and in the home; adjusting furniture, relaxation, sleeping positions, posture and exercise.
Postural neck ache can usually easily be treated with some gentle mobilization by a physiotherapist and a stretching program to prevent recurrence.
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