Headaches sometimes involve or stem from pain in the neck. Computer users, long-distance drivers and others whose jobs require them to keep their head in one position for a long time often suffer from these types of headaches. Head or neck pain accompanied by slurred speech, blurred vision and weakness on one side of the body warrants emergency medical attention. You should also see your doctor if you suffer from frequent, recurring headaches. On any one day, physiotherapists encounter patients complaining of some type of neck pain or headache. There are many possible reasons for headaches, but two of the more common diagnoses are whiplash and temperomandibular joint (TMJ).
Whiplash is characterised by back and neck pain, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears and weakness. Whiplash may result from a motor vehicle accident, sports injury or other trauma that force the neck beyond its normal range of motion. Physiotherapy treatment may include range of motion exercises, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, manual therapy and posture correction. Early mobilisation is preferred over bed rest and muscle relaxants.
Patients who have TMJ often suffer from headaches and neck pains. Their jaw locks, making it difficult to eat, yawn or laugh. Other symptoms include facial pain, swelling, and popping or clicking sounds when moving the jaw. TMJ affects more women than men, and is believed to be caused by clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth. It can also be caused by head trauma.
Physiotherapy involves manual therapy to relieve trigger points and muscle spasms and also looks at the patient’s posture, as incorrect posture. The patient may be given various exercises to overcome the pains.