Common Problems: Headache
Headaches are often caused by disorders of the neck or physical and emotional tension.
Is your headache really a neck ache?
For many people, headaches start as pain or tension at the top of the neck. As the pain worsens, it may spread to the back of the head, the temples, forehead or behind the eyes. Moving the neck or bending forward for a long time tends to make it worse.
Any of the following points could suggest that your neck may be causing the headache.
Headache associated with neck pain. Does the pain radiate from the back to the front of your head?
Headache with dizziness or light-headedness
Headache brought on or worsened by neck movement or staying in the same position for a long time.
Headache which always feels worse on the same side of your head.
Headache eased by pressure to the base of the skull
Headache which persists after your doctor has checked for other causes.
Here is some useful advice to help you control and prevent headaches.
Posture – Think tall: Chest lifted, shoulders relaxed, chin tucked in and head level. Your neck should feel strong, straight and relaxed.
Work – Avoid working with your head down or to one side for long periods. Frequently stretch and change position. Your Physiotherapist will show you how.
Sleeping – Awkward sleeping positions will add load and strain to the neck. A down pillow or polyurethane moulded pillow is best for most people.
Exercise – Keep your neck joints and muscles flexible and strong with the correct neck exercises. Your Physiotherapist will assess for tight or weak muscles and show you specific exercises to restore normal function.
How Physiotherapy can help
Physiotherapists are experts in posture and human movement. They will be able to determine if your neck is causing or contributing to the headaches. Physiotherapists may use:
Functional and rehabilitative exercises
Encouraging normal activity
Postural assessment, correction and advice
Your Physiotherapist can also offer you self-help advice on ways to correct the cause of headaches, such as practical ergonomic tips for work and in the home; adjusting furniture, relaxation and exercise.