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Where Are Your Headaches Coming From?

December 18, 2019


We have all heard that headaches may be caused by certain foods like caffeine, chocolate and stress. However, the reason for your migraines may just be a mechanical problem coming from the neck.

The joints in your neck can “stiffen up” or become unstable by moving too much, which can cause your neck to be “stuck” in an abnormal position. Over time, you may experience neck pain, and signals will be sent to the brain, which can lead to head, ear and face pain.

Another common problem in the neck is tightness or inflammation of the tissue at the base of the skull, which can lead to movement of pain to the head, ears, cheeks and eyes. This can be a result of trauma, such as a whiplash injury or long sustained force, like prolonged poor posture or an uncomfortable sleeping position.

Once tissues in the neck become tight, we avoid the movements that are painful or stiff. This results in tissues shortening further and can result in chronic migraines or a loss of function.

Posture has a large effect on the stress put on your neck joints and tissues. More and more people spend the majority of the day on their phones, iPads and laptops; forcing your neck in a sustained flexed position for long periods of time. The pain associated with excessive electronic use is often referred to as “text neck.”

Maintaining proper posture is a full-time job. Your neck relies on your posture at all times of the day including when you are sitting, standing and lying in bed at night. Once the neck tissue is damaged, improper posture and positioning prevents the tissues from healing, resulting in an ongoing inflammation process.

Headaches are not an easy fix, and often, stretching leads to an increase in inflammation and a flare up of symptoms. A physical therapist that specializes in headache treatment can help to determine the exact position your neck requires to allow for tissue healing through gentle and progressive manual therapy. The therapist can teach you strategies that will help modify your environment for precise postural alignment to aid in pain relief.

For more information on how physical therapy can help relieve headaches, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422).