Neck Pain – Headaches

The neck contains many delicate, pain sensitive muscles, nerves, joints and tendons commonly exposed to abuse and abnormal stresses. Incomplete rehabilitation of past injuries, poor posture while nursing or carrying the baby, prolonged sitting at a computer or desk, and restricted joint motion are some of the more common factors in the development of neck problems.

Within the neck lies the cervical spine, the upper most portion of the spinal column. The cervical spine is structurally and functionally unique from the other areas of the spinal column.

The cervical spine has many important functions which include providing support and mobility to the head and neck, providing essential information for the balance and coordination of the body, and protection for the upper spinal cord and associated spinal nerves. The upper muscles and joints of the cervical spine contain special mechanoreceptors which provide the brain with important information about balance and coordination. The highly flexible cervical spine is more vulnerable to injury.

The 1st through 3rd cervical nerves exiting from the cervical region are responsible for providing sensations to the head and face. When these nerves are irritated they will cause pain, headaches and/or numbness and tingling or burning in the head and face. The nerves from the mid and lower cervical spine combine to form the brachial plexus, a collection of nerves which controls strength and sensation to the arms. Irritation to these nerves can cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the arms.

Some causes of neck pain such as acute trauma as in a motor vehicle accident cannot be avoided. Other causes include poor sitting and lifting techniques, and poor posture, especially at your work station. Hemmett Health tries to address and modify or change these poor habits:

Some of the more common causes of neck pain include:

  • Incomplete rehabilitation of past injuries
  • Lack of proper joint motion
  • Whiplash-type injuries
  • Improper workstation setup
  • Poor posture
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Prolonged use of non-ergonomically designed equipment
  • Excessive, repetitive neck motions
  • Improper telephone techniques
  • Excessive mental stress
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor diet and nutritional practices

The first step in treating neck pain is to determine what has and is causing the neck pain. Once the causes and contributing factors are identified, a successful treatment plan can be structured to eliminate pain and achieve the goals of the patient.  We will work to change any bad habits or postures that may be causing or aggravating the neck pain.

Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches refer to headaches which originate from tissues and structures in the cervical spine or neck region. The headache is generally a very constant, strong, yet dull pain. The most common location of pain is around the orbital (eye) region and upper neck area but may also include other areas of the face, head and neck. The headache will typically last for one to three days and reoccur until properly treated.

Cervicogenic headaches are caused by irritation or injury to the structures of the upper neck region, resulting in local neck pain as well as referred pain to the temporal and facial regions. This headache is often precipitated or aggravated by head and neck movements such as forward head posture when sitting or by acute trauma to the neck such as from a fall or motor vehicle accident.

Migraine headaches often have coexisting muscle tension and cervicogenic factors which contribute to the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks.

The pain generated by migraines has a throbbing quality and usually involves one side of the head initially. The headache tends to reach its peak intensity after about 30 minutes. Migraines may or may not be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. During severe attacks, sensitivity to sound and light may occur forcing the individual to seek a dark and quiet room. The duration of the headache can vary from a few hours to 1 to 2 days.

 

Neck Pain and Headache Prevention Tips

Periodic checkups or supportive care. Supporting proper functioning of the neck with periodic treatments minimizes the stresses to joints and associated muscles and nerves.

 

Practice proper posture, lifting and sitting ergonomics. Practicing proper posture, lifting techniques and ergonomics are essential in reducing stress to the neck at work and play.

 

Regular Exercise. Routine physical activity keeps the body strong and healthy. We will work with you to develop an effective exercise routine that will work with the time you decide to dedicate, and the goals that you set for yourself.

 

Proper diet and nutrition. Providing your body with the proper fuel increases performance, reduces the likelihood of injury and sickness, speeds recovery after injury, and keeps you feeling good. It may be time to add whole food supplements to your diet.

 

Also, if you suffer from migraines be sure to avoid foods that trigger attacks – chocolate, caffeine, nuts, MSG, foods containing nitrates, and alcohol.

 

Home Care Options

  • Icing
  • Stretching
  • Practice proper posture
  • Rehabilitative exercises

Office Care Options

  • Chiropractic joint manipulation
  • Active Release Techniques
  • Graston
  • PNF
  • Rehabilitative Exercises
  • Ergonomic and postural counseling
  • Massage