Chronic and difficult to treat headaches or migraines may have had a key factor overlooked or poorly treated.
We speak of course of the neck. The neck remains the most logical place to investigate, due to three main factors:
- Upwards of 75% of migraine sufferers (and these figures are consistent in TTH) report neck symptoms before or during an episode.1 .
- The nerves from the top part of the neck feed directly into the nerves causing pain, nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound associated with headaches2 .
- Take a look around you at work, on the train or bus, at school with yourself or your children – and tell me with a straight face that we all have good posture that isn’t causing stress in the top of the neck.
The fact is, since we start sitting, we sit badly. Whether its on the floor at school craning up to look at your teacher, head down looking at the desk, sitting on poorly fitted chairs/desks, sleeping on your side curled up, or on your back with a big pillow pushing your head forwards…………from the earliest of ages we are spending an overwhelming majority of our waking and resting day with our head positioned forwards of the spine – either chin poked out or head pointed down.
This constant stress creates changes in the top of the neck which manifest themselves over years. Everyone is different as to how much of an issue this can become, just like not all people with fallen arches or ‘flat feet’ get shin, knee, hip and/or back pain from them, but others most certainly do and that needs to be addressed.
In the same way not everyone with bad posture gets headaches or migraines – otherwise we would all be suffering (actually, 97% of the population will suffer a headache at some point in time and we know that 60% of those can have their infrequent and mild headache reproduced by pushing on the neck).3
In those who are suffering, especially when a simple solution has not presented itself (as it rarely does) we whole heartedly echo the sentiments of a growing community of headache and migraine specialists calling for a skilful examination of the neck.
At the recent Migraine World Summit Dr Joel Saper (Neurologist – Michigan Head & Neurological Institute) called for action:
“It’s essential that we consider the neck very carefully. These (difficult) cases need to be with someone who can treat the neck and put it all together”4
But what type of investigation do you do? Who should you see?
Not surprisingly many people with migraines have already tried neck treatment (due to the symptoms) and not had success. Why is this the case and why try again where so many have failed?
The problem is that traditional treatments have focussed on the neck without testing, or treating the way in which it is connected to the headaches. What results is people having an assessment, finding (not surprisingly) that they have a sore neck, and then treatment begins………working on the assumption that if we just treat the pain in the neck or restore normal movement that this will result in the headaches or migraines improving.
Clinical trials in Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and Osteopathy have failed to show that we can have a sustainable significant impact using those methods5 6
This along with variable results and a history in some areas of over servicing has seen a manual therapy or ‘hands on’ approach shunned.
This is a mistake. Throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Instead what is needed is an approach that is designed specifically to treat the relationship between the neck and your symptoms. An approach that before you commence treatment can show clearly whether there is a relationship between your neck and your symptoms. It is also an approach that sets high expectations about results. We will not be telling you “You’ve had this for 10 years – it will take months and months to see changes”
We know that if our treatment is going to work for you, then we will see significant changes within the first two weeks.
It’s time to use the right tool for the right job, and seek a highly skilled examination of your neck using techniques designed to identify and treat the role of the neck in headache and migraine.
Call today and try the only hands on technique shown to lower brainstem sensitivity, and treat the underlying issue in primary headache.