Headaches are complex and can have many causes. They can be classified as Tension Headache, Cervicogenic Headache (literally ‘headache with origin from the neck’) and Migraine Headache as well as others. Headaches are never ‘normal’ but are rarely sinister. Much research has been undertaken to attempt to explain the many causative factors and presentations of headaches.
Neck joint dysfunction can be caused by poor posture and lifestyle factors as well as trauma. When the neck joints become restricted they will become inflamed- the muscles of the neck will then be switched on to protect and brace- this can produce pockets of dysfunction in the muscles called Trigger Points. This whole process can irritate the local nerve roots as they exit the vertebral column as well. Any or all of these separate components can refer pain to the head- both the scalp and the internal structures.
Chiropractic uses a varied approach to reduce the mechanical causes of headaches. Techniques differ depending on the patient. They can involve joint mobilisation and/or manipulation, muscle stretching and trigger point therapy coupled with home stretching, exercise and ice/heat. Long-term strategies include postural awareness/change and activity modification.