Cervico-genic Headaches Sunshine Coast

March 11, 2011

Headaches can occur for many reasons. There are many types of headaches so it is best to consult your Doctor before seeing a Physiotherapist. A cervico-genic headache is a condition where damage to joints, muscles, ligaments or nerves within the neck refers pain to the head causing a headache. They usually occur when excessive stress is placed on the upper joints of the neck either by trauma (eg. car crash), repetitive activities or poor posture. Pain can also be felt in the skin overlying the head, forehead, jaw line, back of ears and eyes. There can be a gradual onset of neck pain and headaches during the aggravating activity, however it may continue after the activity has ceased. The pain can last days, weeks or even months and be constant or intermittent.

These types of headaches can have a varied presentation but usually present as a constant dull ache at the back of the skull, although sometimes behind the eyes or temple region. Pain is usually one sided, but occasionally both sides. Signs and symptoms can include; neck stiffness and/or pain, difficulty moving their neck, pins and needles or numbness in upper back, shoulders, arms or hands and occasionally light-headedness dizziness, nausea and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Patient’s can be tender on palpation of the neck.

A patient with this condition can recover quickly with appropriate physiotherapy treatment and they can be taught how to look after their neck so that the headaches don’t return. Recovery time depends on the patient’s compliance to treatment and severity of the injury, it can vary from days to months.

Your physiotherapist can identify any contributing factors to the headaches such as poor posture, neck and truck stiffness, muscle imbalances/ weaknesses/ tightness, previous trauma, poor workplace set-ups, sleeping positions/ pillows, repetitive motions/ lifting or stress. Resting from aggravating activities allows healing to begin. Physiotherapists can treat underlying factors with hands on therapy, retrain good posture and  advise you as to which exercises are appropriate.