Neck Pain and Headaches

Neck pain is a common musculoskeletal condition which may involve any of the following structures:

• cervical discs
• facet / apophyseal joints
• ligaments & muscles of neck and neural structures

Many neck pain and headache conditions exist and co-exist. The following are a few brief examples of these types of condition.

Acute Wry Neck

This acute neck condition is characterised by sharp neck pain which may radiate to the scapula with limiting range of movement. It is commonly experienced on wakening or suddenly following fast, uncontrolled neck movement. Possible contributing factors include unusual movements or prolonged postures. (eg: painting with neck in extension for prolonged periods)

Treatment may consist of manual therapy and /or mobilisation and manipulation techniques, followed by postural control and deep neck flexor exercises.

Postural Related Neck Pain

This type of neck pain is often related to postural considerations such as:
Protracted chin and increased upper cervical lordosis

Stiff thoracic spine with kyphosis

Tight scalene, levator scapulae and pectoralis muscles
Restricted shoulder movement or rounded shoulders

Treatment often involves components of postural retraining, mobilisation of upper thoracic and lower cervical spine and release of tight structures or muscles.

Cervicogenic Headaches

The presence of neck pain associated with headache is considered to be one of the characteristic features of cervicogenic headache. Cervicogenic headaches are typically precipitated or aggravated by sustained neck postures or movement, and worsening with stress or tension.

Treatment should address the underlying cause of neck dysfunction, muscle imbalance and stress to achieve a good outcome.