Is my tight neck causing my headaches?
There are several different kinds of headaches, including migraines, tension headaches, and cervicogenic headaches. Each different type of headache has different sources and treatments. It is important if you suffer from chronic and frequent headaches to be evaluated by a qualified medical professional to determine which type of headache you are experiencing, and what course of treatment may provide the best chance at relief.
In this post, we will focus on cervicogenic headaches. A cervicogenic headache is a headache that is caused due to prolonged poor posture and muscle tightness in the neck area. Often times the suboccipital muscles, located at the base of the head, are a major contributor to cervicogenic headaches. These headaches can originate in those muscles and the pain can radiate toward the front of the face on one side. Many other muscles throughout the neck can also become tight and guarded with cervicogenic headaches.
So what causes this neck tightness that leads to headaches? Often times, prolonged forward head posture is the original cause of these headaches (although there can be other causes, such as whiplash injuries). Forward head posture is when the chin is protruded forward, the lower cervical spine in a flexed position and the upper cervical spine extended, which shortens the suboccipital muscles. Holding this posture for prolonged periods, such as when working at a desk job, can cause the neck muscles to become very tight and guarded. It also causes weakness in the deep cervical flexor muscles, which over time makes it more difficult to reverse forward head posture.
So what is the treatment for cervicogenic headaches? Exercises that correct postural imbalances, as well as manual therapy techniques to help return muscles to their normal length, can decrease cervicogenic headaches. If you suffer from neck pain or stiffness, as well as frequent headaches, contact us for more information about how we can help!