Cervicogenic Occipital Headaches

Cervicogenic headache is also called “occipital headache”. The occipital region of the neck is at the back of the head, and this is where the symptoms are found. Symptoms can be constant, affecting either side of the head. Symptoms often increase with prolonged positions of the head and neck. Some people can have nausea, dizziness, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity associated with cervicogenic headaches.

Physical therapists treat this type of headache with a variety of helpful techniques. Treatment involves myofascial release, manual therapy techniques, gentle stretching, muscle retraining, and postural correction. Education to relax the muscles of the face, neck, and upper body are also very beneficial.

Tension Headaches

With tension headaches, pain is usually experienced on both sides of the head, but can occur on only one side. Symptoms are often constant and do not change with activity or rest.

Physical therapists can provide headache treatment and other solutions for this type of problem. Treatment involves myofascial release, manual therapy techniques, gentle stretching, muscle retraining, and postural correction. Education to relax the muscles of the face, neck, and upper body are also very beneficial.

Cluster Headaches

With a cluster headache, pain is very severe and always on one side of the head. Generally pain is experienced behind the eye and is described as pulsing. Stuffy nose and watery eyes often accompany pain. Symptoms tend to occur at the same time of day over a period of weeks to months. Symptoms will then disappear, only to reappear after several months. Men tend to be more affected with this type than women.

Physical therapists can effectively treat postural or muscle tension problems that may be contributing to cluster headaches, making the problem worse. Postural correction, myofascial release, manual therapy, and relaxation techniques are used quite effectively.

Migraine Headaches

With a migraine headache, pain is experienced throughout the entire head, deep within, and is described as pulsing pain of moderate to severe intensity. Light and sound sensitivity is also common. Nausea, distorted vision, and numbness in the face and tongue can also be symptoms. Symptoms last from 4 to 72 hours and affect women twice as much as men.

Physical therapists can help with associated symptoms of tension, postural dysfunction, and muscle imbalance, though the primary treatment for migraine often involves medication management.