Nowadays, headaches are relatively common. What you should know is that there are over 100 types of headaches that have been classified today. Within this gigantic list of headaches is one that is associated with joint and muscle tension of the neck. Although this type of headache is not as common as other types, this one is treatable with conservative management rather without the need for drug usage.
Headaches associated with neck muscles and joints are referred to as cervicogenic headaches. Pain in the neck from either joints or muscles can have a referral pattern towards the head, which can go as far as the front of the head. One theory behind this phenomenon is the muscle and joints of the neck are innervated by the same sensory nerve of the head. So when there is a pain in the neck, it confuses the brain to think that there is something going on with the head as well.
This type of headache is often associated with whiplash injuries. Whiplash injuries are damage to the neck from a violent jerk of the head, like in a car accident. In response to this injury, you’re neck muscles tense up as a protective mechanism. This tension restricts neck movement, which stiffness the joints of your neck. Even after the damage has resolved, muscle tension and joint stiffness remains and can become the new source of pain. When the muscles and joints become stiff, there can be radiating pain from the neck to the head which manifests as a headache.
Another common way for neck muscles and joints to become stiff and tight is from sitting posture. This is common among people who work long hours at a desk. Sustained poor posture for a long period of time can overload the neck joints and cause neck muscles tighten up, leading to cervicogenic headaches. Do check out our previous blog on desk sitting posture and stretches for some more advice to help alleviate these symptoms.
If headaches are a common occurrence for you, it’s best not to leave it for long; speak to your clinician to identify which type of headache you have and how to reduce the severity of the symptoms.
At capital physiotherapy, our physiotherapist have helped manage clients with headaches arising from different sources including cervicogenic ones. If you are having headaches, book in with one of our physios and get started on your treatment today. Contact us at 0401 865 333 or through our website online booking to book in with one of our friendly physiotherapist to build an individualized program best suited for you.