Headaches and Neck Pain

The term “Cervicogenic” comes from the fact that the pain experienced is due to a problem in the cervical portion of the spine (the neck). Cervicogenic headaches are caused by irritation of joints and muscles in the neck. When neck muscles spasm they can put pressure on nerves that travel to the head and radiate pain into the scalp. Joints in the top of the neck also share a nerve supply with the scalp and can cause pain referral. A whiplash injury is a common cause of this type of headache.


The classical symptom of a cervicogenic headache is pain that begins in the neck and progressively moves into the head. Those with the condition often experience a lowered tolerance of pain, making management of the pain sometimes difficult. Head and neck movement, rather than offering relief, can often make the headache worse. The neck usually becomes very tender to the touch upon the onset of the headache and responds very well to Osteopathic treatment.


Non-Specific Neck Pain

Many people develop a stiff and painful neck for no obvious reason. It may happen after sleeping or sitting in a draught or perhaps after a minor twisting injury, for example while cleaning or gardening. It is the most common type of neck pain and often disappears after a few days. If it doesn’t resolve within a couple of days it is wise to have an examination and treatment before the body begins compensating with altered posture.



Most muscles of the body relax completely when they are not being used but some muscles  have to work all the time in order to keep your body upright. Muscles at the back of your neck must always be tensed, otherwise your head would fall forwards when you are sitting or standing. When these muscles work too hard or are not strong enough, it can cause neck pain and tension headaches. People who are worried or under stress often sub-consciously tighten their muscles more than is necessary to hold their head upright. Tension headaches are very common and are often wrongly called migraines. Working at a computer station and sitting slumped with head forward loads the neck muscles and may create tension headaches.


Osteopathic Treatment

After assessing the function and quality of neck and joint movement, we check the muscle and fascial tension along with its relationship to the spine and head. We apply soft tissue techniques to soften muscle tension with positional release for the fascia. We may follow this up with articulation and encourage joint release where necessary. We also use gentle Cranial Osteopathic techniques to rebalance the rhythmic function of the spine and cranium. Recommended exercises for correcting poor posture are also a part of treatment and consultation.