Headaches are a common presentation throughout life and one that can be considerably painful and disabling.
Headaches associated with the neck are called secondary headaches, as they result from a source other than the head, such as an injury to the neck joints, discs, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
These types of headaches are called cervicogenic (neck generating) and it means the joints and soft tissues primarily in the upper neck region are responsible for your headache presentation.
Cervicogenic headaches are usually associated with neck pain and stiffness, which can be aggravated by prolonged and repetitive neck positions and movements – particularly neck extension and rotation. Pressing on trigger points at the top of the neck near the skull may be provocative and can aid in the diagnosis of a cervicogenic headache.
An International Study Group considers restricted range of motion of the neck to be one of the major diagnostic criteria for neck related headaches. Other criteria important in the diagnostic process is whether symptoms are precipitated by:
• neck movement and/or sustained, awkward head positioning
• external pressure over the upper cervical or occipital region
• there may also be accompanying neck, shoulder or arm pain on one side
• moderate-severe, non-throbbing pain, usually starting in the neck
• headache episodes of varying duration, or fluctuating, continuous pain
Conservative management of neck related headaches is directed at the joints and soft tissues, additionally specific repetitive movements are used to help reduce pain and remodel shortened structures. Strengthening exercises should also be used, which should be directed at the deep neck flexors and the upper cervical extensors.
At One Point Sports Medicine our practitioners use evidence based methods to diagnose, treat and prevent neck pain and neck related headaches. Our goal is to reduce pain, restore range of motion and promote pain-free movement.