Headaches are a pain in the neck!
By Jake Pizzatti
Headaches are a common problem that people can overlook - putting it down to a tough week at work and managing symptoms with a short-term quick fix, like popping tablet or getting a massage. While this can provide relief, headaches can be more than meets the eye and the true source of the headache may vary. Some examples of headache sources include muscle cervicogenic pain (headaches caused by muscle or neck joint injuries) and migraines.
Muscles in the neck and shoulder region can ‘refer’ pain up to the head and face in a variety of patterns when trigger points related to overuse and poor postural habits become an issue. These can be easily managed with some massage therapy however may be a recurrent problem if the underlying factors aren’t addressed. These factors may be related to underlying muscle weakness, postural fatigue or sub-optimal workstation setup*.
Joints in the neck region, specifically, the upper levels of the neck / base of the skull can also produce headaches, starting at the base of the skull and spreading over/around to the forehead. Stiff/blocked joints can be ‘mobilised’ (glided/stretched at the specific region) to provide increased movement of the neck and relieve pain. Stretches, self-mobilisations (SNAGs) and neck strengthening exercises are helpful for not only relieving symptoms but reducing re-aggravation.
While “true” migraines are diagnosed by neurologists and are often treated with medication, they don’t always occur in isolation- that is trigger point and cervicogenic sources may also be adding insult to injury. As such, physiotherapy treatments can offer some relief for the migraine episode, taking the edge off.
If you have a headache, physiotherapists are trained to detect the source of the headache and provide treatment to relieve the initial symptoms as well as teach you how to make changes to prevent the headaches recurring.
* have you checked out Worksafe Qld and compared your workstation setup? https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/hazardous-manual-tasks/office-workstations
If you would like to book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists, please call (07) 3211 8775 or book online.