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If you are experiencing headaches that seem to start at your neck and work up to your head then you may be experiencing a cervicogentic headache, which literally means a headache that originates from the cervical spine and radiates up to your head. This is caused by an irritation to either the muscles of your neck or from the joints themselves.
Cervicogenic headaches can be caused from poor posture especially when sat at a computer or when texting as these positions can place a large amount of strain onto your neck muscles, that over time will lead to increased tension and possibly a repetitive strain injury. Take a look at the image below to see just how much force your neck has to handle just by tilting your head forward to read a phone screen!
The general symptoms of a cervicogenic head include
- Unilateral or one sided head pain
- Headaches comes on when holding neck in awkward positions just as texting, computer work or holding a phone between your head and shoulder.
- Pain is usually described being deep but non throbbing (may become throbbing if migraine it triggered)
- Restricted range of motion in neck
- Other symptoms may mimic a migraine such as sensitivity to light, nausea or pain in the shoulder/arm of the same side as the headache.
If you think you are experiencing cervicogenic headaches, the first action you must take to prevent them from developing is to avoid the triggers and to address your posture. If you work in an office make sure you are sat facing your computer straight on, you have a headset if you regularly take phone calls and that you adjust your chair and screen height so that you the screen is straight ahead. I will be writing more on ergonomics and how to set up your desk in a later blog post.
A postural assessment and corrective exercise programme will also help address any muscle imbalances and help strengthen your postural muscles. Alongside, osteopathic treatment to help relieve tight and restricted joints and muscles. In the meantime, try the stretches below to help alleviate a headache.
If you would like more information on cervicogenic headaches or you think you may be suffering with them. Feel free to contact me on 07500059064, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on facebook and I would be happy to provide any advice I can.
Yours in Health
Andrew Graves, Osteopath & Sports Therapist
Andy has been involved in the health & fitness industry for over 10 years, specialising in corrective exercise, injury prevention and rehabilitation of low back, neck and shoulder pain. He also has an interest in the use of Osteopathy for the management of headaches.