Causes of Headaches and Migraines
The most common cause of such neck pain is poor posture, usually associated with sitting at a desk and working at a computer for prolonged periods of time. The prolonged sitting with a forward head posture leads to tight muscles in the back of the neck that start to pull on the base of the neck and the shoulders causing pain in the head. Other causes can include neck injuries (whiplash) and spinal abnormalities. Research has shown that these problems can cause spinal joint stiffness, nerve irritation, muscle overuse, tightness and spasm, which all refer pain to the head and can manifest as a headache and migraine.
How does physiotherapy help headaches?
Cervicogenic headaches, as they are called, respond very well to physiotherapy. physiotherapy treatment of the underlying neck problems and its effects can completely alleviate such headaches and neck pain. This includes postural retraining, taping, joint mobilisation, heat therapy, stretching, massage, and trigger point therapy. Physiotherapists can also provide you with postural advice and movement practices that you can use at work and home to maintain neck stability, flexibility and correct posture to prevent future episodes.
When a headache starts; change your position, do 20 reps of pain free shoulder circles and 10 reps of small neck circles. This will increase blood flow to the area, increase the stabilising muscles to work and relieve pain. Try these simple tips to help keep the headaches away!
Prevention of Neck or Tension Headaches
These types of headaches may vary in severity but are rarely as severe as a migraine. They may be felt in the base of the skull, behind the eyes or as a tight band around the forehead. They are generally episodic eg once or twice a month.
Causes include poor sustained postures throughout the day. Chronic stress and fatigue. A history of trauma to the neck. Excessive caffeine and alcohol intake or smoking. Eye strain. You may be able to identify a particular trigger for your pain.
Prevention strategies include management of stress through light cardio exercise or relaxation techniques eg relaxed breathing or contract-relax technique. The application of local heat compresses and or massage. Cessation of smoking and caffeine and alcohol intake reduction. Postural awareness and the use of suitable ergonomic equipment. Postural exercises. Ensuring good quality sleep. Keep a diary to help identify any potential triggers eg. Diet, stressor etc. Once identified try to avoid said trigger.