Evidence-based management of cervicogenic headaches shows that manual therapy and specific exercises are beneficial for cervicogenic headaches.
In 2009 noted Researchers Bogduk and Govind, found that the treatment of cervicogenic headaches with;
- Manual therapy,
- Specific exercises, or
- Manual therapy plus exercises
Are significantly more effective at reducing headache frequency and intensity than was no specific care.
At 12 month follow up, about 76% of the patients treated with these approaches achieved more than a 50% decrease in their headache frequency.
Combination of exercises and manual therapy is especially beneficial for cervicogenic headaches.
Jull et al (2002) found that in treating patients with cervicogenic headaches, both manipulative therapy and specific exercise significantly reduced headache frequency and intensity.
With the combination of the manual therapy and the exercises, 10% more of the patients gained relief.
It was shown when using manipulative therapy alone, muscle performance of craniocervical flexion failed to improve.
Thus there is a need for a specific exercise intervention to target muscle control of the cervical region.
Too late? Too chronic?
Interestingly, Jull et al (2002) identified that the length of headache history was not a determinant of treatment effectiveness.
The subjects in the study had symptoms that were chronic in nature, with average length of symptoms 6.1 years.
As identified above they still gained significant benefit from the treatment.
Physiotherapists at Lifecare would be happy to discuss any aspects of managing patients with cervicogenic headaches.
- N. Bogduk, J. Govind. Cervicogenic headache: an assessment of the evidence on clinical diagnosis, invasive tests, and treatment. The Lancet Neurology, 2009;8:959-968.
- Jull, G., Trott, P., Potter, H., Zito, G., Niere, K., Shirley, D., Emberson, J., Marschner, I.C., Richardson, C. A randomised controlled trial of exercise and manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache. Spine, 2002; 27:1835-1843.