Headaches (1)

Cervical (Neck) Tension Headache Management

There are varying reasons for headaches, but a main reason could be your neck pain. Neck problems can be a common cause of frequent headaches and create an uncomfortable interference with your every day life.

Our Physiotherapists can evaluate your neck to see if it is contributing to your headaches.

Causes:

Trauma to your neck could be caused by:

  • Falling or slipping
  • Motor vehicle collision
  • Contact sport collision
  • Other minor injuries

Non-traumatic injuries could be caused by:

  • Awkward sleeping position (usually from lying on your stomach)
  • Ergonomic issues (prolonged poor posture at work)

Symptoms:

  • Neck stiffness, decreased range of motion
  • Pain, popping in your jaw, fullness in the ear on the same side
  • Pain in the back of the head, at the base of the skull and behind and/or around one eye

Signs:

  • Reduced neck range of motion, especially in the upper neck
  • Reduced neck and upper body strength
  • Reduced neck and shoulder flexibility
  • Increased neck muscle tension
  • Poor posture – head forward slumped posture will cause an adaptive muscle imbalance in the neck and upper back

Treatment by a Certified Manipulative Physical Therapist (FCAMT):

Further specific exercise prescription to stretch tight muscles, strengthen weak muscles and improve your posture can be customized to your needs and may help manage your headaches (see postural home exercise program). You may also benefit from direct treatment of Manual Therapy, Acupuncture or Dry Needling provided by our qualified Physiotherapists.

Additional Tips

  • Neck pain without headaches will often benefit from heat to the neck for 15 minutes.
  • Headache pain can be alleviated with ice to the upper neck for 10 minutes.
  • Headache frequency and intensity can be reduced with improved cardiovascular fitness. A gradual walking program can help manage headaches.