There are many different types of headaches, and not all types can be treated successfully by physiotherapists. The most successfully managed headache type by physiotherapists are the headaches coming from your neck.
Neck (also called cervicogenic) headaches are characterised by the following symptoms:
- Neck pain and stiffness.
- Usually felt only on one side of the neck/head (although this is not always the case).
- Usually commence in the neck and then spread to the head.
- Can also be associated with sensitivity to light and/or sound.
- May also create feelings of nausea and/or dizziness.
Physiotherapists can assist in diagnosing if your neck is contributing to your headaches by examining for the following signs/symptoms that are commonly found in patients with neck headaches:
- Reduced neck range of movement/flexiblity.
- Tenderness/soreness over the neck.
- Weakness in neck/postural muscles.
Should your neck be contributing to your headache the physiotherapist can then commence treatment to assist your symptoms. The best type of treatment for neck headaches tends to be a combination of:
- Manual/manipulative therapy to assist with pain relief.
- Exercises to strengthen and/or stretch your neck area.
- Assisting you to identify, and then treat, other potential factors that might contribute to your neck headaches such elevated stress levels and lack of sleep.
As mentioned earlier not all headaches can be successfully treated by physiotherapists, but if you have any of the symptoms above then it is worthwhile seeing your local physiotherapist.
People can also suffer from more than one headache type. So even if you have been told you suffer from migraines (true migraines physiotherapists cannot really treat effectively) it would be worthwhile having your neck assessed to see if your headaches may have a small component that is arising from your neck. This can then be treated in conjunction with your medical management for your migraines.