What are headaches?
Headaches can be a very debilitating condition, especially if you are suffering with them daily. It is crucial that you seek a health professional’s advice in regard to any new onset headache, for a full and thorough investigation/examination. The three most common causes of headache are:
- Cervicogenic (neck related) headache
- Tension Type Headache (associated with stress)
A cervicogenic headache arises from the dysfunctional movement of joints (facets) within the neck. Those suffering with cervicogenic headaches describes the pain as localised to the neck and back of the head. This pain can get worse with movement of the neck and most often the pain will radiate up one side of the head, radiating from the neck itself.
Research into the treatment of cervicogenic headaches has shown a positive outcome in regard to pain intensity, duration and frequency of headaches being reduced considerably.
If your headache feels like a vice or tight band around your head, this is often described by patients suffering with Tension Type Headaches. The headache us usually on both sides of the head and can last anywhere between an hour to a week at one given time. In general, Tension Type headaches are triggered by stress, lack of sleep, previous neck injuries, depression and in some, TMJ syndrome.
The treatment of Tension Type headaches is very different to those suffering with cervicogenic pain. Treatment starts predominantly with discussing ways to reduce stress and manage your complaint at home. The release of muscles around the neck often helps with this headache, especially the use of dry needling.
How do headaches differ from migraines?
Often patients will describe their headache as a migraine however a true migraine is a very different experience to a headache. Migraines often come with or without an aura and for true migraine sufferers, it can render them bed ridden for days. Some patients also experience associated symptoms such as photophobia, vomiting and even blindness or muscle weakness during the migraine. Usually migraines require specific migraine management medication and a multi-disciplinary approach is paramount.
Chiropractic manipulation may help the migraine sufferer however these patients are often very sensitive to stimulus in the neck . Therefore, a gentle approach to care is usually taken with \ light manipulation/mobilisation therapy, dry needling and cranial suture massage therapy.
Can my neck be causing my headaches?
Under the ICHD, there are over 1000 classifications of headaches and for any health care professional, they can be very complex to treat. Often patients will present with many different types of headaches and not just one single type, so treatment will be based around helping identify what headache you’re experiencing in order to understand which home care tactics to use in order to manage your headaches. So yes, your neck muscles may be causing your headache and it would require a comprehensive history and physical examination to determine the underlying cause of your headaches.
What will the Chiropractor do?
Once Niki has taken your history and determined if the cause of your headache is suitable for chiropractic care, she will ask you to undertake a trial of care (usually 3 to 6 treatments) along with a headache diary to monitor the triggers of your headaches. Following the trial of care, she will re-assess you to determine if there is an improvement in your pain. She will also discuss the long-term goals and identify areas where you can manage your headaches. 'chiropractic spinal manipulative treatment of migraine headaches in 40 year duration of gonstead model' https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3259914/