Headaches Can Literally be a Pain In the Neck
Day to day life leads to normal ups and downs; whether it’s the responsibilities of a new job, the soreness from playing in the golf tournament you didn’t stretch before, or the stress from the in-laws visiting for the weekend…life can be a headache. But does it have to be? The short answer: No.
Headaches can be frustrating when they happen, and they can be even more frustrating to manage. Part of that frustration is because there are so many different kinds of headaches. Migraines, tension-type, cluster, exertion, sinus, rebound…and that’s just the tip of the headache iceberg. But what’s lesser known is that many headaches are caused by dysfunction in the cervical spine, or neck. In fact, as many as 1 in 5 people with chronic headaches have “cervicogenic headaches,” or headaches arising from the neck. This number is even higher in women, who are up to four times more susceptible to cervicogenic headaches.
These cervicogenic headaches cause pain that often starts in the back of the head, usually just underneath your skull; they then sometimes travel up or down your neck, into the side of your head, and occasionally to the front of your forehead and beneath your eye. They tend to be a dull, intense achiness that gets worse as the day progress, or as you get more and more active.
The silver lining of your headache-filled cloud? Physical therapists (PTs) can help! PTs are uniquely and specially trained to address musculoskeletal issues, like cervicogenic headaches. They use specific hands-on manual techniques to improve the spinal mobility in your neck and upper back, give exercises to help strengthen the weak muscles and stretch the tight ones, and then give you the techniques to be able to continue to control your headaches long after you stop seeing them. So don’t think you have to live with your headache pain; call your physical therapist or your primary care physician and ask about PT for your headaches!