The odds are that 8 out of 10 people will suffer from headaches at some point in their lifetime.
There are thousands of kinds of headaches which are possible according to neurologists but the most common three are cervicogenic headache, tension headache and migraine. These may be intermittent episodic or chronic in frequency for some. Some people may suffer from a cluster headache which affects just one side of the face above the eye too and last for days or weeks.
Sometimes, headaches could be a sign of something far more sinister and as a primary contact practitioner with experience in assessing headaches we can make sure we rule out red flags such as brain stroke, cancer, concussion, fractures and other head trauma.
The great thing is Musculoskeletal Physiotherapists with experience treating headaches recognize the role of the neck in switching the headache on and off at the brainstem (particularly the group of neurons called the trigeminocervical complex) which receive converging sensory information from the upper levels of the neck.
Assessment and Management of Heachaches
To test if your neck has a contribution to your headache your physiotherapist will be able to examine the possible region it originates from and attempt to change the sensitive region with their hands.
Sometimes, there may need to be a multidisciplinary approach to treating migraine which can occur due to multiple stressors that can add allostatic load to the persons brain which can result in a stress response like headache.
In such cases, treatment will require careful assessment of stressors (sleep, diet, habits, lifestyle, drugs, hormones etc.) that are adding the most load and managing them individually.