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At HFS Clinics, our Physiotherapy Director, Nick Critchley, has over 15 years’ experience managing headache conditions and holds post-graduate degree level qualifications in this area. Nick runs a specialist physiotherapy service that oversees all aspects of headache and migraine management. As well as dealing directly with any musculoskeletal triggers for headache, he works closely with neurologists and pain management doctors as well as sleep specialists, nutritionists and clinical psychologists so that all of the problems that contribute to the development of headache in each individual can be dealt using a collaborative team approach.
Headaches affect a large number of us through our lives and are one of the most common reasons for visiting the GP. Seeing your GP can be a sensible first step to take but only very rarely does medical investigation tell us that something is wrong. This is reassuring enough but at the same time leaves lots questions unanswered. Unfortunately, most patients are simply recommended various types of medication that attempt to mask symptoms rather than identify and treat any underlying physiological triggers that help push the brain towards an episode of headache. Research suggests that treating all underlying comorbidities and triggers simultaneously is more likely to result in better treatment outcomes.
It is well documented that headaches can be caused by pain referred from disorders in the upper part of the neck. We call these types of headaches cervicogenic i.e. coming from the cervical spine. At first this is not something that most people would normally consider but actually the nerves in the upper part of the neck share junctions (synapses) in the brain stem with the sensory nerves that supply the head and face, the trigeminal nerves. Disturbances in these shared synapses can easily be a source of head pain as these two sets of information become blurred.
Cervicogenic headaches are acknowledged by the International Headache Society (IHS), but in our clinical experience the role of the neck as both a cause and a trigger for many types of headache, including migraine, has been considerably underestimated. Without expert assessment of the joints and soft tissues in the upper part of the neck, a cervicogenic headache cannot be ruled out especially given that lots different types of headaches including migraine present in very similar ways.
90% of the patients who have come to see us complaining of headaches (including migraines) have been successfully treated.
“I suffered daily headaches for over 10 years before a neurologist referred me to Nick at HFS Clinics. Gentle manipulation of my neck started to ease the pain almost immediately. I was also shown how to correct my posture and set up my work station properly and I have not had a headache for over a year” (Stephanie – Insurance Broker)