Cervical & Migraine Headaches

Headaches are one of the most common pain-related health problems in both children and adults that is commonly treated at Spinal & Sports Care.

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Approximately 70% of all headaches are musculoskeletal. Some people experience frequent, recurring, or chronic headaches. Headache pain ranges from slight discomfort to debilitating pain. It may last for minutes or days to possibly even months and years. You may have a headache along with another minor health problem such as a sore throat, cold, or sinus problem.

Other causes may be eye strain, sinusitis, dental or jaw problems, alcohol/medication/dehydration, illness, and very rarely serious medical conditions.  It is important to have your headaches comprehensively assessed to determine the nature and type of headache that you have – there are over 150 different types of headache.

Through a thorough evaluation, we are able to identify the cause of your headaches. Our practitioners are all fully trained to accurately assess, diagnose and treat headache and migraines.

Facts about Headaches and Migraines

  • Women are 4 times more likely to suffer from cervicogenic headache
  • Cluster headaches more commonly seen in males
  • Individuals with managerial and professional occupations seem to be more afflicted by cervicogenic headache
  • No family tendency seen with cervicogenic headache
  • 90% of patients suffering from migraines report the pain starting in the forehead or temporal region where as 73% of cervicogenic headache patients report pain beginning at the neck and moving into the head
  • Tension headaches are typically bilateral while cervicogenic headache are unilateral
  • Migraines can switch sides, but cervicogenic headaches stay unilateral.
  • Cervicogenic headaches are more likely to be triggered by a specific position than migraines.

Cervical Headaches or Cervicogenic Headaches

The most common cause of headache is cervico-genic headache, which means originating from the neck.  The cervical spine—the seven vertebrae of the neck—contributes to a large percentage of headaches.  The nerves in the cervical vertebrae are closely associated with the main nerves in the head that are involved with pain.

Headaches are frequently caused by joint or muscular dysfunction and inflammation in the neck, poor posture, degeneration of the neck or a combination of these. Tense muscles in the neck and head can also release chemicals that may trigger headaches.  Headaches originating from or relating to neck dysfunction can be very successfully treated & even prevented by Spinal and Sports Care.

Headaches can be caused by trigger points in the neck muscles and head muscles.

Cervical headaches are those that can often be most successfully treated by our Physio and Chiropractors. These headaches may present as:

  • Pain & tension in the neck
  • Pain, ache & pressure in the forehead and back of the head
  • Tension in the temple and jaw area
  • Pain that is made worse with sustained and repeated postures (especially sitting) and movement of the neck
  • A headache with a feeling of light headedness or dizziness
  • Pain usually on the same side of the head as neck pain

Tension and Emotional Headaches

Tension Headaches are another common type of headache and are often caused by a bad night’s sleep, stress and emotional strain. Most adults have tension headaches from time to time, and everyone may have different areas of pain. Like cervical headaches, these headaches usually stem from increased muscle tension at the base of the skull or in the neck and shoulders. They cause aching, tightness, pressure, and pain around the forehead, temples, or back of the head and neck.

They tend to happen again and again, especially if you are under stress. They aren’t usually a sign of anything serious. It usually lasts for 30 minutes to several hours, though can last for several days. Some people have chronic tension headaches, which mean they have a headache on 15 or more days a month. This type of headache can lead to stress and depression, which in turn can lead to more headaches.

Migraine Headaches

Approximately one-third of people who have migraine headaches first began having them as teenagers. Migraines are painful, throbbing headaches that last from 4 to 72 hours. When you have a migraine, it may be so painful that you are not able to do your usual activities. But even though migraines make you feel bad, they don’t cause long-term damage.

Common Symptoms of Migraine Headaches

Commons symptoms reported by patients with migraines is a pulsatile/throbbing  type of pain in the head, with associated nausea, light sensitivity and on occasions vomiting.

There is no cure for migraines, but it is possible to control them with a range of treatments. However, what’s successful for one person may not work for another. Around 10% of people who have migraines also experience aura symptoms. These are disturbances that start 15 minutes to an hour before the headache. They can include blind spots, flashing lights, zigzag patterns, tingling, pins and needles, or numbness in the limbs.

Other Common Types of Headaches

Cluster headaches are recurring headaches that occur in groups or cycles. The headaches appear suddenly and cause severe, debilitating pain on one side of the head. Scientists aren’t sure what causes the disorder. The tendency of cluster headaches to occur during the same time(s) from day to day, and more often at night than during the daylight hours, suggests they could be caused by irregularities in the body’s circadian rhythms, which are controlled by the brain and a family of hormones that regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

Alcohol (especially red wine) provokes attacks in more than half of those with cluster headaches, but has no effect once the cluster period ends. Cluster headaches are also strongly associated with cigarette smoking. Glare, stress, or certain foods may also trigger an attack.

TMJ (Jaw) Headache Teeth and jaw problems can contribute to headache and migraine. Teeth grinding or clenching, dental abscesses and difficulties with the jaw joint can radiate pain into the face and head. Treating the underlying disorder should alleviate the recurring headache.

Sinus Headaches Allergic reaction such as hay fever may begin the process of inflammation within our sinuses. Like inflammation anywhere else in the body, there is swelling and increased fluid production. In the sinuses, this decreases the ability of the sinuses to drain and the increased inflammatory fluid production (just like the weeping observed with a skin injury) combines to cause the pain and pressure of a sinus headache.

Treatments of Headache

It is important to have your headaches comprehensively assessed to determine the nature and type of Headache that you have – there are over 150 different types of headache.

Through a thorough evaluation, we are able to identify the cause of your headaches. Our practitioners are all fully trained to accurately assess, diagnose and treat headache and migraines. To determine the type of headache the patient has presented with, our Physios and Chiropractors at Spinal and Sports Care utilise a thorough and specific history and examination. Our practitioners then liaise with the patient to arrange a suitable treatment plan for the management of this often annoying and occasionally debilitating condition.

Massage, mobilisation and/or manipulation of the spine and aerobic exercise have been shown to decrease the severity, frequency or duration of headaches and promote movement. Postural re-education may be another area for treatment focus.

However, almost all practitioners consider lifestyle changes that help control stress and regular exercise an important part of the headache treatment plan and prevention. Avoiding situations that trigger your headaches is just as vital as patient education and home-based exercises.