Headaches can come from numerous causes:
Postural Headaches – Related to Neck and Upper Back Posture
We often sit at our desks or on our devices for long periods, between work, social media and games. This can lead to poor posture, creating muscular imbalances in the neck and upper back.
The head of an average adult weights about 8-10 lbs. If we sit with a forward head position, then the weight of the head can compress onto the joints of the neck. This causes neck pain and headaches, and sometimes referred pain to the top of the head, the forehead, and commonly behind the eyes.
Forward head posture typically creates a weakness in the muscles at the front of the neck, as well as shortness and tightness at the back of the neck, near the base of the skull. This tightness and compression can contribute to chronic postural headaches.
We can treat this type of headache with manual therapy treatment aimed at restoring the mobility in tight, stiff, and compressed joints and muscles. Then we can provide you with a home exercise program to help you maintain good posture and improve neck strength and mobility, reducing the frequency and severity of headaches.
Neck referral – post injury or whiplash
Often, these headaches are brought on by a fall, concussion or whiplash type of injury where the head is moved quickly in space. There can be similar findings, as noted with the Postural Headaches above, but the restrictions in mobility can be worse. The muscles can be injured in a fall or injury, which can require more time to heal and recover.
In these cases, we will assess your specific needs and create a treatment plan. This will be aimed at gradually restoring neck and upper back strength and mobility. With improved postural stability and muscle control, this will help to alleviate headaches and neck pain.
Inner ear or Vestibular Conditions
The inner ear or vestibular system can be linked to headaches. You must be assessed to determine whether vestibular involvement is present. If present, treatment aimed at addressing any vestibular dysfunctions will be done in addition to any neck and postural work.
Often, the vestibular system is affected in correlation with the neck after injury. Treating both dysfunctions is necessary to fully recover from the headaches.
Often, there can be mild visual weakness that occurs with neck or head injury. Sometimes there can be changes that occur with aging as well. Wearing bifocal lenses can also make it much harder for your neck to stay in a good position.
Testing Vision and Posture – Visual tracing exercise
We will often get you to work on visual tracing exercises, which can help restore movement control and proprioception coordination in the upper neck and eyes. This has great benefit for day-to-day function, and will often reduce issues associated with visual strain.
We do refer to optometrists for any visual issues that require further medical evaluation, and work with them to help provide you the best care possible.
Also, hydration is key to managing headaches. Remember to drink enough fluids!
If you have any questions, or would like an assessment to see if your headaches can be helped with physiotherapy, please do not hesitate to contact us.