What is A Cervicogenic Headache?
A cervicogenic headache is a type of headache that originates from dysfunction in cervical spine. They are caused by a dysfunction or injury to the neck, such as muscle or joint problems, nerve compression, or spinal instability.
The pain is characterized by dull aches on one side of the face, and may also radiate to the back of the head or behind the eyes.
Signs And Symptoms
1. Pain On One Side Of Head
2. Worsening With Neck Movement
3. Neck Stiffness
What Are the Causes?
1. Postural Neck Imbalance
Dysfunction in one side of the neck will cause discomfort in the same side of the head and/or face.
2. Muscle Dysfunction
Muscle dysfunction in the neck and shoulder muscles can refer pain the head and/or face.
3. Joint Dysfunction
Joint dysfunction restricts movement of the vertebrae in the neck, which can cause postural problems, nerve dysfunctions, and muscle imbalances in the neck.
4. Nerve Compression
Nerve compression leads to nerve dysfunction, which can negatively affect the postural muscles and joints around the neck.
How does physiotherapy Treat Cervicogenic Headaches?
Resolves the root cause
During the assessment, your therapist will determine why your cervicogenic headaches are occurring. Your therapist will then provide treatments, prescribe exercises, and educate you on how to resolve your symptoms.
1. Manual Therapy
Myofascial release: to reduce pain, tightness, and inflammation of the muscles, joints, nerves, and fascia of the affected areas.
Joint mobilization: to promote smooth joint movement and mobility of the neck, shoulder, shoulder blade and other affected areas.
2. Biomechanical Optimization
Improves alignment and stability of the cervical spine via:
Postural conditioning: corrects poor posture and muscle imbalances to improve alignment of the head, neck, and shoulders.
Movement pattern conditioning: optimizing neck and shoulder movement recruiting the appropriate neck, shoulder, and shoulder blade muscles.
3. Exercise Therapy
Stretching: to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension in the neck and shoulders.
Strengthening: to improve the activation and stability of the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and shoulder blade which can restore relieve muscle, joint, and nerve dysfunction in the neck.
Home exercise program: individualized exercise prescription to restore optimal and balanced movement.
Acupuncture: use of thin needles to improve local and systemic function, regulate the nervous system, and promote the body’s natural healing processes.
Heat and cold therapy: to manage reduce pain and tension or control inflammation.
Electrostimulation: use of electrical currents to stimulate muscles and reduce pain.
Ultrasound: use of high-frequency sound waves to produce deep tissue heating to reduce muscle tension, fascial tension, and inflammation.
Laser therapy: to improve blood flow, reduce pain and inflammation, and promote tissue healing.
Recommendations regarding lifestyle and activity modifications, posture, and sleeping position to help reduce load, risk of recurrence, and further injury.