The Cause of Neck Pain and Headaches

When you’re sitting at your desk all day long, your spine remains in a relatively static position, causing you to overwork your muscles and joints, and eventually leading to pain.

The signs are often compounded if you have poor posture and/or are lacking movement. For example, you tend to move your face closer to the monitor when you’re sleepy, which puts further pressure on postural neck muscles, such as deep flexors. Furthermore, if you hunch at your desk it will cause you to rotate your shoulders forwards, this can lead to an imbalance in your chest, neck, and shoulder muscles and can cause strain and tightness as a result.

A therapist’s approach should be to strengthen postural muscles, boost the role of the neck, improve movement and quality of life and reduce pain. A trained Osteopath or Physiotherapist should be able to help and guide you in the right direction.

Care for neck pain should first be prescribed, and the osteopath and physiotherapist should customise the treatment to suit your case. The treatment frequently uses many subtle techniques to increase the range of the neck and thoracic spine and associated articulations, and to reduce any muscle tension and discomfort.

They are often used to alleviate muscle spasms through soft tissue techniques and stretches. You can treat the spinal joints with either a mobilisation or a manipulation which creates a rapid increase in range of motion. Additionally, exercise prescription is often recommended to help maintain treatment results and to prevent them from occurring in the future.

Headaches can be a symptom of numerous conditions, but some are directly related to the neck. This could be a tension headache or cervicogenic headache. Tension headaches are most common as it is caused by neck muscles being strained or the muscles are too tight at the base of the skull. For example, postural strains from looking at the screen for too long or sleeping with your neck in an awkward position. Another cause could be stress. Tension headaches are usually characterized by non-throbbing pain in the forehead, scalp, neck, and sometimes around the eyes. Cervicogenic headaches cause what we call ‘referred pain’ which is when we feel pain in the head due to something going on in the neck. This could be due to a whiplash injury, pinched nerve in the neck, or compressed joint. These types of headaches can be successfully treated with an osteopath or physiotherapist.

If you’re keen to find out more and speak with an osteopath, join us on 14 June, Tuesday, 6.30pm at The Gym for a talk by the good guys at Edge Healthcare, where they will share more about neck pain, and how this is correlated to headaches. Book here .