Headache Treatment

Headaches can happen for many reasons which make it difficult to know what type of headache you have and the cause. Migraines, tension/cervicogenic headaches, and cluster headaches are the main forms of primary headache disorders. Commonly enough, many of them can be traced back to the neck or surrounding musculature.

Why Headaches Occurs

Posture plays a critical role regarding neck pain, which can cause pain in the head region, triggering a headache. Existing in today’s world with desk jobs, poor sleeping habits, and excessive technology use — to name a few — all can have potential influence on headaches. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments of our neck are pain sensitive and can send symptoms to other areas of the body.

Different Types of Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are rarely a sign of something scary or dangerous. However, it’s important to distinguish the difference from other types of headache as they can share similar symptoms.

Migraine sufferers know a migraine from a “bad” headache. Migraine headaches are typically more severe than cervicogenic headaches and have a known trigger, e.g., food, light, smells. Pain is usually on one side of the head with symptoms behind the eye and at the back of the head.

Sensitivity to light and noise, and nausea and vomiting are common. Some experience “auras” or visual disturbances preceding a migraine. Migraines can last a few hours to as long as a few days and can occur seldom or several times a year.

Cluster headaches are the least common type, and their underlying cause is unknown. Cluster headaches are very intense and commonly felt right behind one eye — described as one of the worst pains you can experience. Cluster headaches occur regularly over a period in “clusters.” They can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, occurring multiple times in a day over several weeks.

If a headache occurs suddenly and accompanied by pain, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or unconsciousness — especially when associated with trauma — seek emergency medical care immediately.

Common Issues We Treat

  • Occipital headache or pain at the base/back of the head
  • Frontal headaches (area above the eyebrow)
  • Temporal pain or pain near the temples
  • Jaw pain/tooth pain
  • Eye pain
  • Pain that wraps around the head
  • Sinus pain
  • Pain associated with the head/neck/upper back

Patient Centered Treatments


 Treatments Options for a Headache

The most common treatments are rest, medication, physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, and other various conservative therapies.
It is important to get your headaches evaluated by a professional to determine appropriate classification and course of treatment. Commonly, we find cervicogenic headaches to be the result of a problem of the neck joints and muscles just below the base of the skull, which can easily be treated with rehab, manual therapy, and adjustments.

At Motion ChiroTherapy, instead of making the patient dependent on seeing us in the office for headache relief, we teach them how to catch the beginning stages of any potential headache and how to control it on their own. Headaches can be spontaneous or often occurring at inconvenient times and getting into our office to be treated during a busy workday or road trip is not always an option. We believe in patient empowerment and autonomy and being able to control your own pain is a huge component of that. We can’t all live perfect lives where we avoid bad postures and prolonged sitting or driving, but knowing what your triggers are and how to tolerate them better and control them is critical. Restoring ranges of motion and making the surrounding muscles and tissues around the head and neck strong with rehab is also an important piece to making you less sensitive to external stressors and therefore not as susceptible to headaches!

Common Causes of a Headache

The most common cause of a cervicogenic headache is the accumulation of poor body mechanics and postural habits.
Pain from turning or bending your head/neck is not because it is inherently bad, rather the result of the accumulated stress of poor postural and movement habits — the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to say.

We’re not meant to sit in chairs and stare at electronic screens for hours on end. Our bodies like to move — it’s healthy for our muscles and joints. From infancy through the first year of life, we learn to how to move, setting us up for the rest of our lives. But if movements or postures of any joint are not balanced, e.g., too much in one direction or position, it can create and make problems worse. The reoccurring pattern of habitual postures and movements can lead to joint imbalance and subsequent tight muscles and irritated nerves.

Rarely is cervicogenic headache a serious or structural problem, i.e., arthritis, degeneration, rather an imbalance of positions, postures, and movements. Since it is a mechanical problem, it requires a mechanical solution, such as rehab and manipulation. It is common for patients with cervicogenic headaches to have little to no relief with taking over-the-counter medications, which can become frustrating and concerning.

Have Questions? We’re here to help!