Headaches are a commonly reported and often debilitating symptom with a variety of causes, both serious and benign. There are certain types of headaches, such as some migraines, cluster headaches, etc., that do not respond well to Physical Therapy intervention. However, a large number of headaches arise due to muscle tension and tightness, disc pathology, lack of neck motion, and/or poor posture, and these headaches can respond well to Physical Therapy. Cervicogenic headaches often originate on one side of the neck or back of the head, traveling up the head above the ears, often resembling a "ram's horn." This is certainly not the only presentation of cervicogenic headaches, as they can also be felt on the top of the head, behind the eyes, the forehead, the upper shoulders, and can be unilateral or bilateral. Many patterns of cervicogenic headaches have been identified. Other indications that your headaches might be coming from the cervical spine are if the symptoms are intermittent, associated with specific activities, or are produced with sustained activity in one posture. Again, these are only a few of the scenarios that can trigger cervicogenic headaches.
A thorough history and assessment of your head and neck will help to rule out red flags and confirm the source of your headaches. This will include assessment of range of motion, joint mobility, strength, postural control, muscle tightness, and the response of your symptoms to movements of the neck. Once it is determined that your headaches are appropriate for Physical Therapy we will begin working with you to find positions, movements, and exercises that relieve your symptoms and teach you how to do these consistently. Treatment will also consist of a combination of joint and soft tissue mobilization, myofascial release techniques, postural education, muscle strengthening and stretching. In addition, our therapists are trained in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) which has been shown to be extremely effective in the treatment of headaches and other cervical issues. If your symptoms respond favorably to certain positions or movements of the neck, a simple but specific home exercise program will be established for you to perform to help alleviate the symptoms as well as the underlying problem. Headaches are quite common and can greatly interfere with your daily activities and quality of life, so do not miss the chance to see if they can be eliminated through Physical Therapy.