In today’s population 47% of us experience headaches. There are many classifications and forms of headaches and this is why it is important to have your headache assessed by not only by your GP but also your sports or musculoskeletal physiotherapist. Physiotherapists are experts at assessing and managing headaches of cervicogenic origin (referred pain from the neck) or from the structures of the jaw (temporomandibular joint, TMJ).
Cervicogenic headaches refers to headaches that stem from overload to structures in the neck. This can be tension or postural related and are commonly felt on the top, back and sides of the skull (in the hairline) and seldom have associated nausea or dizziness symptoms. Headaches referred from the jaw are commonly felt around the eyes, face and aching of the jaw itself.
Treatment of your headaches will involve assessing your history and predisposition to headaches and then diagnosing the most likely musculoskeletal cause. Treatment may include soft tissue techniques to the areas of muscular dysfunction (cervical spine, axioscapular muscles, TMJ). It will aim to restore cervical and temporomandibular joint range of motion, in addition to prescribing exercises to prevent them from recurring.
There are numerous causes of migraines including dietary sensitivities, hormonal cycles, medications and sensitisation of the trigeminal nucleus located near the jaw. There can be a link between cervicogenic headache and migraine in some people. Whilst physiotherapy may not be able to directly change the causes of migraines, they may be able to assist you in the relief of associated muscular tightness and postural compensation that can occur when a migraine is running its course and can address any overlapping cervicogenic or TMJ component. If you are unsure whether or not your physiotherapists can assist you please contact one of the Performance Medicine physiotherapists today.