Cervicogenic Headaches and Vertigo

Cervicogenic Headaches

What Is A Cervicogenic Headache?

Cervicogenic headaches are a chronic or re-occurring headache that arises from a source in the neck or base of the skull and is perceived in the face or head. Headaches that are caused by the cervical spine are commonly misdiagnosed and accounts for 4.1% to 53% of all headaches (percentages vary between studies). The presenting symptoms can be complex and similar to other forms of a primary headache syndrome. 

How Can A Physiotherapist Help?

Generally cervicogenic headaches result from a dysfunction in the upper cervical spine between C0-C3. A physiotherapist can complete a cervical spine assessment and determine what factors are involved with your condition such as joint and muscular restrictions. Therapy generally involves joint mobilisations, soft tissue release and home exercises including posture retraining if required.

What Can I Do?

Posture has a significant impact on the upper cervical spine with regards to loading. Improving your posture and ergonomic set up when using any devices (computer, phone, tablet, T.V) can have a significant impact on the cervical spine loading and headache pain. 

Vertigo / BPPV

What Is Vertigo?

Vertigo is dizziness that creates the false sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving. The condition can feel similar to motion sickness, but it’s not the same as light-headedness. Vertigo is often caused by an inner ear problem. There are several causes for this however, physiotherapists treat what is known as BBPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). 

What is BPPV?

BPPV occurs when tiny calcium particles (canaliths) are dislodged from their normal location and collect in the inner ear. When you move your head the inner ear sends signals to the brain about head and body movements relative to gravity. These canaliths alter the inner ears ability to determine where you are in-relation to gravity causing dizziness/vertigo. BPPV can occur from unknown reasons however it's known to be associated with certain ages, genders and ethnicities.

How is BPPV Treated?

The physiotherapist will first assess and determine if the dizziness is caused by BPPV by using the Dix-Hallpike positional test (Hallpike manoeuvre). If the cause is BPPV, the physiotherapist will perform what is called an 'Epley Manoeuvre'. The Epley Manoeuvre is a series of positional movements designed to move the canaliths back to their original location . The physiotherapist will give you advice for specific requirements regarding post session care. The manoeuvre may need to be repeated several times during the session and in follow-up session/s before the canaliths have completely returned to their original location. Once the canaliths have returned to their original location, all symptoms should cease.