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Tension headaches are a pain in the neck….

Tension and Cervicogenic Headaches 

Cervicogenic and ‘tension’ headaches are a common type of headache and are defined as “referred pain perceived in any region of the head caused by a primary source in the musculoskeletal tissues’’. In more simple terms, these headaches are caused by a problem within the neck area (or Cervicogenic area) hence the name.

The source of pain can be any structure in the neck/head area, including:

  • Cervical joints (the little joints in the neck)
  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Discs

Cervicogenic headaches affect a large proportion of the general population and account for 15-20% of headaches seen within a specialist headache clinic. Cervicogenic headaches are a common symptom of neck trauma with around 60% of whiplash cases reporting Cervicogenic headaches. They tend to affect middle aged females more often, but can occur at any age. The pain can either be a dull ache or a more piercing pain, deep within the neck and head. It will often start at the base of the skull and radiate up over the top of the head. This headache can last from a few hours to several days. In some more severe cases, it can be a constant unremitting pain.

These headaches are commonly aggravated by:

  • Neck movements
  • Awkward head positions e.g. sleeping awkwardly
  • Sustained postures e.g. sitting at a computer for a long time

How we can help

At SB Sports Massage and Rehabilitation our speciality is working with joints, bones and muscles. Given that Cervicogenic headaches are caused by exactly these structure, seeking help with us for these types of headaches can be very effective. We would start by thoroughly examining the neck region to find out exactly what may be causing your headaches. We will then put together an active treatment plan which may include:

  • Postural rehabilitation and education
  • Strengthening any weak muscles in the neck & upper back
  • Using massage techniques to ease any trigger points or tight muscles
  • Mobilising stiff or sore joints

Through working with you, we will aim to ease any immediate issues that are causing you pain or distress but more importantly arm you with the tools to help stop these types of headaches being a frequent part of your life. Some people find a regular ‘maintenance’ sports massage with our practitioners to be a highly effective way to prevent the onset of these headaches.