Headaches and Migraines & Trigeminocervical Nucleus
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 link directly to a part of the brain that we know is sensitised in people with headaches called the trigeminocervical nucleus.
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 of 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. Accurately stressing stiff tissues in the upper part of the neck temporarily reproduces the patient’s head pain and this is one of the key diagnostic criteria set by the IHS to differentiate cervicogenic headache from other types. Once the exact location in the neck has been confirmed, carefully aimed, gentle manipulation of these stiff spinal segments is used to then ease the symptoms and most patients then find that, generally, their pattern of headaches starts to change very quickly.
If on examination there are no relevant disorders to be found in your neck or upper back, treatment would not be recommended and we would refer you back to your GP. We also work closely with Consultant Neurologists so that the medical aspects of various types of headaches are also managed effectively.
Headaches & Migraines – Patient Testimony
“I suffered daily headaches for over 10 years before a neurologist referred me to HFS. 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)