When we ask our patients that experience headaches and migraines due to neck pain what their primary goals are for their treatment, we hear several common themes. Many patients want to be able to spend more time with their kids and loved ones, others hope to regain their productivity in their work and home life. Across all of our patients, however, the most common answer that is shared with us is a desire to reduce or eliminate their need for medication.
So, how do we accomplish this? The traditional treatment model for neck pain and headaches is usually a series of over the counter and prescription medications that may work temporarily, but are not a long-term solution for most patients. Doctors are trained to perform expensive procedures and prescribe medication intended to change hormonal processes or silence the body’s natural alarm system. This is great for keeping disease at bay, but what if instead we looked at the reason the body’s alarm system went off in the first place?
When assessing which treatment approach is most effective we should first understand the underlying mechanism and from this we can know where long-term relief can be found. Whether due to poor posture, whiplash injury, or trauma, tension is developed in the upper vertebral segments (C1-3) of the cervical spine and translated to the nerves, muscles and other sensitive tissues of the head and neck – causing a headache. Most of these headaches start as minor irritation at the base of the skull, with the pain eventually traveling up into the head and sometimes resting behind the eye. In order to stop this chain of events, the loss of rotation in the first and second cervical vertebrae must be addressed. Using a combination of manual physical therapy, home exercise programs, and thorough education, neck pain can be treated safely and effectively without need for medication. Manual physical therapy techniques are used to restore movement (rotation and nodding) to the neck, which reduces and even eliminates headaches.
To learn more about how the neck plays into headaches and migraines, and how an effective home exercise program can make a difference in your symptoms, ,schedule a free discovery visit with one of our doctors. Our clinic is dedicated to helping patients who suffer from neck pain, headaches, and migraines lead a pain-free life. Our specialized physical therapists will meet with you one-on-one to discuss your symptoms and learn more about your treatment goals. If you are ready to ditch the medication and take control of your pain, we are here to help.