Understanding Headaches

freeimages.co.uk medical imagesHeadaches have many different classifications and can present in different ways.  However most headaches are classified as tension-related.  Tension refers to excessive contraction of musculature at the head, neck, or jaw.  Many situations can affect the health and function of the muscles as well as the joints of the neck which have a direct relationship with the surrounding soft tissues.

forward head posturePoor or prolonged postural strain from computer use and many desk jobs, repetitive use with some sports, muscle imbalances, lack of stretching or strengthening, or an injury can all lead to muscle tightness, weakness, and a lack of coordination of the cervical spine muscles, which are critical to maintaining the health and function of the head and neck region.

A typical description of a tension headache will be a feeling of dull pressure around the head which can be worse at different times throughout the day but may last for several hours.  Neck or jaw pain and tightness is often associated.

Manual therapy is effective in successfully treating tension-related headaches.  Restoring joint motion and muscle function will have the most immediate effect in providing relief.  Postural exercises, stretching, and ergonomic modifications may be needed as well.  Other considerations include adding low intensity cardiovascular exercise if you’re not already, better sleep habits, and improved water intake.  These considerations are all related to improved muscle tonicity.

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