Headaches are very common. It is estimated that 47% of the population suffers from a headache every year. There are two broad categories that headaches can fall under, primary and secondary. Primary headaches, like migraines, come on before any other symptoms. Secondary headaches come on after another symptom has been happening for a while.
Recent research has found that 15-20% of all headaches are cervicogenic. Cervicogenic headaches are characterized by unilateral pain that starts at the base of the skull and wraps up and over the head. Since a cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache, that means there is primary issue causing it. For cervicogenic headaches, the primary cause is locked up neck joints and muscular imbalance.
Migraine and cluster headaches are primary headaches. Although most are accompanied by neck pain, that’s not their true cause. Migraine and cluster headaches are caused by an underlying chemical or vascular issue. Although these headaches aren’t caused by issues in the neck, chiropractic care to the head and neck area has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of the symptoms associated with them.
Similar to cervicogenic headaches, tension-type headaches are caused by muscular tightness. The main difference is that tension-type headaches are bilateral, affecting both sides of the head. Tension headaches are considered primary headaches because the underlying cause is regional spasm of the head and neck muscles.
WHAT TO DO
Research has shown that joint mobilization, muscle stretching and strengthening, and postural reeducation can help relieve the symptoms of all headaches. And in cervicogenic and tension type headaches, those three interventions in combination have been shown to completely relieve sufferers of all symptoms.