Neck pain and headaches can be debilitating, affecting your ability to carry out everyday activities and lessening your quality of life. These conditions can be extremely painful, which is why they are one of the leading causes why people visit a physiotherapist or a chiropractor. Headaches can be brought on by an acute whiplash injury or chronic migraine disorder, stress, or a bad posture.
There are many different forms of headaches, such as tension, migraine, and cluster headaches, with a variety of reasons, including nervous system and vascular malfunction, as well as stress and anxiety. Since headaches frequently involve a number of contributing factors, they might not be properly identified or treated.
Causes of Headache and Neck pain
The neck area is susceptible to injury and muscle tightness that cause discomfort and limit mobility which ultimately causes neck pain and even headache. This is partly because, neck area is highly flexible and carries the weight of your head.
Muscle strains are frequently brought on by overuse, such as spending too much time slumped over a computer or smartphone. Neck muscles can be strained by even seemingly unimportant activities like reading in bed or gritting your teeth.
Your neck joints tend to deteriorate with age, just like the other joints in your body. The cushions (cartilage) between your bones (vertebrae) degrade due to osteoarthritis. After that, your body produces bone spurs that impair joint motion and are painful.
Your neck’s vertebrae may develop bone spurs or herniated discs, which can put pressure on the spinal cord’s branching nerves.
Whiplash is a common injury from rear-end collisions in cars because it happens when the head is violently thrown backward and then forward, putting strain on the soft tissues in the neck.
Neck pain can be brought on by a number of conditions, including cancer, meningitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
A unilateral headache that originates in the neck is the symptom of a cervicogenic headache (CGH). It is a typical chronic headache that flares up periodically and usually occurs after moving the neck. It frequently goes hand in hand with a restricted neck range of motion (ROM). It could be mistaken for a tension headache, migraine, or another main headache syndrome.
All of the following factors must be included in the diagnostic criteria:
- The discomfort must originate in the neck and be felt in the head or face.
- Proof that the neck is to blame for the pain. A headache must go away following diagnostic blocking of a cervical structure or its nerve supply using a placebo or other suitable controls, or it must exhibit clinical indications that point to a neck pain source.
- Three months after the underlying illness or lesion has been successfully treated, the pain goes away.
There may be a significant amount of overlap between the two fields of study. Both physiotherapists and chiropractors work to treat musculoskeletal and joint issues in order to reduce pain, improve movement, build strength, and help you regain full function. However, there is a broad spectrum of treatment approaches in both chiropractic and physiotherapy, much like in many other fields. It’s crucial to avoid categorizing an entire profession after meeting one member of it. The primary distinction between the two is the use of joint manipulation by chiropractors as opposed to mobilization procedures by physiotherapists.
How Physiotherapists Can Help
Neck joint dysfunctions and muscular imbalances can be diagnosed and treated by physiotherapists. Depending on how your neck discomfort was diagnosed specifically, your physiotherapist may use some or all of the following techniques:
- To release or unlock stiff neck joints, gently mobilize and manipulate the joints.
- Neck muscles and postural shoulder blades are the target of strengthening workouts for weak muscles.
- Muscles that are too tight or hyperactive can be relieved by stretching, massage, acupuncture, dry needling, or other relaxation therapies.
- Exercises to build up the deep neck muscles are important for controlling, stabilizing, and limiting the movement of unstable joints.
To address poor posture, try exercise, awareness training, taping, or a brace. Advice on how to prevent awkward postures in the future. Additionally, any nerve dysfunction that you may have will be specially treated. Your issue should be resolved in a matter of days or weeks, depending on how serious it was to begin with and what the root causes were. The foundation of rehabilitation will be prevention and therapy.
How Chiropractic Can Help
- Spinal manipulation: This is a procedure in which a healthcare provider who is trained in spinal manipulation uses their hands or a device to apply a controlled force to a specific joint of your spine.
- Joint mobilization: A type of therapy in which your joints are passively moved for the purpose of improving movement or reducing pain. This treatment targets the cervical spine when used for headaches.
- Deep neck flexion exercises: These exercises involve actively moving your muscles and joints under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Free Online Workshop on Neck Pain & Headaches
Most of our back pain patients and almost none of our neck pain patients would have ended up needing physiotherapy if their daily workstation ergonomics and lack of adopting some important mobility measures into their day hadn’t played a role.
Discover how to manage neck pain & headaches originating from neck & poor posture without medication. This workshop is for you if any of the followings happens to you or someone whom you know:
- Anyone having difficulty turning head/moving neck
- Anyone having difficulty lifting/carrying due to strain on neck/upper shoulders
- Anyone with difficulty working at a desk/on a computer due to neck/head pain
- Anyone with frequent headache and dizziness attacks
- Anyone who has tried other neck/headache treatments or exercises with minimal success
Most neck pain conditions can be managed by non-medicinal, non-surgical treatments. Our chiropractor, registered massage therapist & physiotherapist will answer your questions.
Al Khalili Y., Ly, N. & Murphy, P. (2022). Cervicogenic Headache. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507862/
Doherty, C. (2022). Chiropractic Therapy for Headaches and Migraines.Very Well Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/chiropractic-therapy-for-migraine-headache-4116849