It often begins with a dull ache in the back of your neck that slowly creeps upward to your temple, forehead or eye. Perhaps you’re unable to think straight, you may find it impossible to focus properly, and as you move your neck you’re paralyzed by the pain. You’ve just experienced a cervicogenic headache.
Headaches are one of the most common complaints in adults and children. There are many types of headaches, some of which include: migraine, tension, occipital, and cervicogenic, or originating from the cervical spine (neck).They result in multiple days of missed work, billions of healthcare dollars in treatment, and an overall reduction in quality of life. Successful management relies on correctly identifying its origin and contributing factors.
While the treatment of migraine headaches is often focused on lifestyle changes and specific medication, cervicogenic headaches have been successfully treated with physical therapy techniques such as mobilization of the cervical spine.2,4 This can be in the form of soft tissue mobilization, and joint specific mobilization. Soft tissue mobilization may include myofascial release therapy aimed at releasing tension from the fibrous bands of connecting tissue (fascia). Myofascial release therapy aims to free constrictions or blockages in the fascia, thereby alleviating problems with connective tissue scarring or injury. Deep tissue massage and stretching may also help alleviate this tension and pressure which lead to headaches. At times, the source of this muscular tension and pain may be due to one or more areas of joint dysfunction or restrictions in the cervical spine.1,2,3,4 These pesky areas of dysfunction are often found in the upper 3 segments of the cervical spine.2,3,4 Upon correction of the soft tissue restrictions or biomechanics of the spine, a person can often experience an immediate relief of their headache. Once these areas of restriction or dysfunction are correctly identified by a skilled practitioner, a person can even be educated of self treatment mobilization techniques. While there have been other studies demonstrating the effectiveness of mobilization techniques on the relieving cervicogenic headaches,2,4 none have addressed self mobilization by the patient in controlling intensity and duration of symptoms.
We have had exemplary success treating cervicogenic headaches and are proud to announce a University study that documents the effectiveness of our progressive therapeutic techniques in decreasing symptoms of headaches. This study was conducted at Therapeutic Rehab Specialists in Lakeland and Brandon, FL.
Call Therapeutic Rehab Specialists at:(813) 876-8771 and ask for Anthony Pribila, PT, DSc, CMPT, CMP, CEAS to find out how you can receive the same type of effective treatment for cervicogenic headaches.
Relief of pain may be in sight!
1. Grieves G P. Grieve’s Modern Manual Therapy: The Vertebral Column.2nd ed. Edinburgh Churchill Livingstone, 1995: 322-532.
2. Jull G, Trott P, Potter H, Zito G, Neire K. A randomized controlled trial of exercise and manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache. Spine. 2002;27:1835-1843.
3. Mulligan BR. MANUAL THERAPY “NAGS”, “SNAGS”, “MWMS” etc. 4th ed. Plane View Services Ltd, Wellington, NZ; 1999:9-43.
4. Zito G, Jull G, Storry I. Clinical tests of musculoskeletal dysfunction in the diagnosis of cervicogenic headache. Manual therapy. 2006, 11: 118-129.