The Influence of Physical Theraphy on Cervicogenic Headaches

The Influence of Physical Theraphy on Cervicogenic Headaches Blog

Physical Therapy: A Potent Tool in Eliminating Cervicogenic Headaches

A cervicogenic headache is a type of pain that you feel in your head, but it originates in your neck. Thus, it’s a form of referred pain.

Approximately 54 percent of all adults will have some kind of neck pain in any given stretch of six months. On top of that, as many as 70 percent of people who experience headaches might be dealing with a problem that affects the cervical spine, which is the part of the spine that’s located in the neck.

New medical research is backing up the theory that weaknesses in either the cervical spine or the muscles of the neck can lead to extra stress and pain.

The Importance of Posture

Fortunately, physical therapy can help. Indeed, it can work wonders for patients who suffer from a reduced range of neck motion as well as headaches.

Your physical therapist might:

  • Teach you a series of exercises to build strength in your neck muscles
  • Help you to recognize when your posture is less than optimal
  • Show you how to align your head and neck and keep your shoulders from rounding

After a while, you’ll notice when you’ve begun to slouch or lean your head too far forward, and you’ll be able to fix your positioning at once. In fact, this process might become a muscle memory, and therefore, your body will make these corrections on its own.

Muscle Matters

In a similar manner, your physical therapist will train you to recognize whenever there’s too much tightness in either your upper trapezius muscles, which are next to your shoulder blades, or your sternocleidomastoid muscles, which are positioned along the sides of your neck.

Those muscles can tense frequently, and when they do, they can cause you to bring your head forward or to round your shoulders. Thus, your physical therapist will teach you to relax those muscles so that they won’t negatively affect your posture.

What’s more, your physical therapist might review a variety of movements that will build the muscles of your core, including:

  • Your abdominals
  • Your obliques
  • Your diaphragm
  • Your lower back muscles

Why should you focus on your core when you’re dealing with neck pain and headaches? The core muscles specifically help to keep the head and the neck in alignment in addition to providing the entire body with stability.

Support Devices Can Make All the Difference

Further, your physical therapy sessions might involve using a special device that will enhance your posture. For example, you could wear a posture-support jacket. This item of apparel will allow you to get accustomed to standing and sitting in ways that promote neck strength.

In fact, some people have been able to boost the endurance levels of their neck flexors by more than 40 percent after spending time wearing such a jacket. With greater neck flexor endurance, your chances of suffering from cervicogenic headaches should go down significantly.

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In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)

image

Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)

image

Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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