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Is Your Neck Causing Headaches?

There are 14 classifications of headaches including the commonly thought of migraine, tension, sinus, and post-concussive headaches.1 One type that is often overlooked are headaches that occur as a result of neck issues. These types of headaches are known as cervicogenic headaches and they typically occur in conjunction with neck pain. It is estimated that approximately 47% of the population suffers from headaches and about 15-20% of those are cervicogenic in nature, meaning they are relatively common.2,3

The good news is that cervicogenic headaches are treatable with physical therapy. A combination of manual and exercise therapies have been shown to be effective in treating pain and improving decreased function associated with these types of headaches. These headaches are usually brought on or aggravated by sustained neck postures such as looking up/down or side bending for a long time. This causes muscular tightness and often presents as a headache consisting of one sided pain which migrates from the back to the front of the head/neck.

Because there are so many types of headaches, it is often difficult to differentiate between types without seeing a medical doctor. Medications are commonly used to treat headaches, but don’t always work when the headache is cervicogenic in nature. If you are experiencing headaches and/or neck pain, contact Mizuta and Associates Physical Therapy to be seen and treated by a physical therapist today.

References: 1. The International Classification of Headache Disorders: 2nd edition. Cephalalgia, 2004. 24 Suppl 1: p. 9–160 2. Stovner L., et al. , The global burden of headache: a documentation of headache prevalence and disability worldwide. Cephalalgia, 2007. 27(3): p. 193–210 3. Haldeman S., Dagenais S., Cervicogenic headaches: a critical review. Spine J, 2001. 1(1): p. 31–46

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