Can my neck cause a headaches?

At Yarra Osteopathy we see many patients with headaches. They are a debilitating problem experienced by approximately 5 million Australians (reference) and one of the most common causes of headache is dysfunction of the neck (“cervicogenic headaches”). Whilst still very painful these headaches can be simpler to treat and respond very well to gentle osteopathic treatment.

Cervicogenic headaches are most commonly caused by the upper three cervical vertebrae (C1, C2 and/or C3). These areas can either become too stiff or move too much (unsupported by weak muscles). These headaches are typically felt on one side of the head only. The pain can be felt at the base of the skull and/or behind the eyes.


What can my osteopath do to help?

– Examine your neck to determine the exact cause of pain.

– Improve the range of motion of the upper cervical spine OR,

– Provide exercises to strengthen and stabilise the neck if hypermobile.

– Work on other adjacent areas that may be contributing to the problem such as the thoracic spine and shoulders.

– Provide you with take-home advice to minimise recurrence.

What can I do?

Simple neck and postural exercises such as these can help to reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. Other lifestyle factors such as desk and computer set-up, stress management and regular exercise are also great preventative measures.

Another common type of headaches are tension headaches. We will discuss them in a future blog post.