Maybe your headache or migraine is in fact being caused by neck! Read on to learn more about this common and often misdiagnosed problem…….
How do I get a headache from my neck……. not my head??
Every day our body has to interpret information subconsciously; like sight, smell and taste. The lower brain stem or cervical spine is the key to interpreting and processing all of this information.
Often, the lower brain stem becomes overloaded with information and this sensitisation is what results in cervicogenic headaches.
It is as if someone has turned on a light and turned the brightness up to full. The more information that passes through the brighter the light becomes, this information goes to the brain and it interprets it as a headache. As a physio it is our job to turn the brightness down!
How do I know if my headache is coming from my neck and not my head?
The location of where the headache is gives us a clue as to where the headache might be coming from.
- forehead = upper cervical spine
- back of your head and moves to the front = mid cervical spine
You may also find your headache to be on the left side and sometimes on the right side. If this happens we know that this is being caused by the cervical spine.
5 HOT TIPS FOR IDENTIFYING HEADACHES CAUSED BY THE NECK!
- Location on one side or can swap side
- Headache in conjunction with neck pain/stiffness
- Medication doesn’t work as it would normally
- Brought on or increases with prolonged sitting
- Started or increased after trauma
What should I do if I have a cervicogenic headache?
- Start by correcting your posture and in particular bring your chin back in closer to your chest. This simple strategy can make a huge difference.
- Other simple things can be adjusting the height of your computer screen if you’re an office worker and taking regular breaks from your work station.
If you are not getting full relief with these changes or your headache is more constant you will need to see a physio to treat the neck dysfunction whether it be:
- Joint stiffness
- Muscle tightness
- Poor motor control