Understanding Neck Pain in Tension-Type Headaches

For many of us, dealing with headaches is like a recurring storyline. Did you know that neck pain might be a key player in tension-type headaches (TTH)? Let’s discuss by diving into the latest insights in tension type headaches.

Key Takeaways:

  1. The Neck-Headache Connection: Neck pain in tension-type headaches can stem from various causes, including referred pain from the head or musculoskeletal issues in the neck. Understanding these nuances is crucial since up to 90% of TTH patients also report neck pain.
  2. Evidence of Neck Impairments: Research highlights some common impairments in individuals with TTH, like forward head posture, reduced neck movement, and altered muscle control. However, these findings don’t always pinpoint the neck as the headache culprit. They might be consequences rather than causes.
  3. Upper Cervical Structures and Sensitisation: Areas like the upper cervical spine joints and trigger points in muscles can contribute to TTH, possibly due to sensitisation of the trigeminocervical nucleus. However, it’s a complex puzzle—reproducing headaches through palpation doesn’t always happen.
  4. Holistic Management Approach: Managing TTH requires a multidisciplinary approach. Physiotherapy, with a mix of strategies like manual therapy and specific exercises and approaches involving the central nervous system, proves effective. While soft tissue therapy may offer short-term relief, solely targeting upper cervical joints isn’t recommended.
  5. Decision Tree for Cervical Involvement: The authors propose a decision tree for clinicians. If trigger points reproduce TTH, start with soft tissue treatment, followed by addressing upper cervical joint dysfunction. Posture and motor control issues can be tackled along with general aerobic exercise.

Implementing in Practice:

  1. Tailored Treatment Plans: Our Physiotherapists can tailor treatment plans based on individual patient findings. Identifying trigger points and choosing interventions accordingly, such as soft tissue treatment or manual therapy for upper cervical joints, ensures a targeted approach.
  2. Holistic Exercise Prescriptions: Exercise isn’t one-size-fits-all. Combining tissue-based exercises with central nervous system-focused activities provides a holistic approach. Patient preferences play a role in adherence, making exercise programs more effective.

Understanding the intricacies of neck pain in tension-type headaches empowers both physiotherapists and patients to achieve relief more effectively. Our Clinicians can create personalised strategies for lasting well-being.

Call our friendly staff to book an appointment today 9116 8691.


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