Headaches - a pain in the neck

It began when I was sixteen (no, not that…I matured early), it was year 11 at school and moving into year 12, that stressful last year. I began to suffer headaches, initially mild but getting stronger as the year progressed. At times the headaches were so severe I had to lie down, drug up and stop studying (tragic, I know).

I’m sure my parents thought that at best it was a stress response or at worst a flagrant act to avoid putting in the hard yards with my study. The pain however was very real. There were times I was literally bought to tears with the discomfort (stop snorting all you macho guys…I’m being vulnerable).

Although I suspect stress played a part I knew other factors were involved when the stress of year 12 was over but the headaches continued!

The headaches revisited me on a consistent basis for the next five to six years. It was during my undergraduate degree that I came across the concept of my neck possibly being responsible for the problems.

This started to make sense to me as I remembered an incident when I was playing rugby during year 11. On one occasion an opposition player built like Sponge Bob Square Pants had broken through and the only thing between him and the try line was little old me, I placed myself bravely in his path and hunkered down for impact. As expected the impact was impressive, the earth moved for me but I held on for grim death and brought him to ground and prevented the try from being scored…I was subsequently chaired from the ground and lauded as hero (ok that last bit was a bit if a stretch but I did save the try)! During the tackle I had lowered my head as he crashed into me with the result that the crown of my head impacted his hip…I saw stars but managed to hold on. On standing up I knew my neck had not enjoyed the experience. My neck took a few days to recover full movement and have the pain settle but being young and indestructible you shake it off and carry on… but I realized much later that my headaches had begun shortly after this experience.

With this revelation and realization I procured some intervention from my father (yes he was a physio too) and classmates and things did seem to improve but it wasn’t till I did my post-graduate training that a massive improvement occurred.

I was completing a postgrad diploma in manipulative therapy (now called musculo-skeletal therapy) that involved a lot of hands on joint manipulation and mobilisations. I and my cohort of fellow students had to practice our skills on each other regularly… the result being my neck got vigorously manipulated on many occasions. Initially this sparked a couple of humdinger headaches but as I persisted they got steadily better and then disappeared!

The research varies in its assessment of how much headache is stimulated by neck issues with predictions as diverse as 15% to 75%.

In my experience some headaches can be cured by treating the neck and many others can be improved even when the neck is not the primary source of the problem.

The likely cause of headache in the neck is damage and inflammation of the joints of the first three vertebrae. We call these levels cervical vertebrae 1, 2 and 3 or C1, C2, C3 for short. When irritated these joints can project pain into the head (referred pain) and even simulate migraines and cluster headaches.

If you are a headache sufferer and your neck has never been assessed as a possible cause then come in and let us have a look and possibly offer a solution for this most debilitating condition.

Treatment does not normally require a strong manipulation as much gentler movements can be just as effective so don’t be frightened by my earlier description of my own history. We can be gentle AND effective.

Don’t put up with this problem for one day more! Call us on 93843269 or book an appointment online.