Is your headache/migraine coming from your neck?
As Osteopaths we are trained to take a wholistic approach to pain and dysfunction in the body, headache and migraine are no different.
We are all familiar with the concept that pain in the lower back can radiate into the legs due to irritation of the nerves and structures in the lower back itself.
In the same way, current evidence supports that structures in the neck can cause headache symptoms via stimulation of the nerves that feed into the brainstem: this can cause dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound and pain.
How do the structures and nerves in the neck become an issue?
We don’t have to look far these days to see the affect that our modern lifestyle has on our posture. Desk work and most recently mobile phone usage has us all placing increased tension into our upper necks.
Over time this tension may lead to dysfunction in the neck, which is supported by the fact that 75% of migraine sufferers report neck symptoms before or during an episode. Recent research also demonstrates that pressure applied to the upper neck can reproduce sufferers familiar pain.
Now not everyone with neck pain gets headaches/migraines, which is why it’s important to ensure that you are getting your neck assessed by an experienced practitioner.
While some forms of physical therapy (physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic, osteopathy) can be great at providing short term relief, they often fail to create sustainable improvements for chronic headache and migraine sufferers.
However, in the last 10 years research has given rise to innovative and effective forms of treatment.
At the Melbourne Headache + Migraine Group (situated within WHL) our approach is based on the Watson Headache® Approach, which follows the treatment philosophy of Dr. Dean Watson. For the last 20 years he has pioneered clinical research into how the neck can influence migraines.
This is a hands on treatment approach created specifically to treat headache and migraine by identifying and treating issues in the upper neck that can lead to brainstem sensitisation and migraine.
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