Have you been suffering from migraine for years and think there’s no cure for it? Hmm…you have probably not seen the right therapist yet. Although there are various types of migraine, there’s been enough research done to link it to an underlying neck problem, most of the times. Do you feel stiffness around your neck after a long day at work? or perhaps you tend to wake up with it for no reason? Even though you may not have pain, stiffness in the neck muscles can easily cause headaches. This is because the muscles of the neck attach at the base of the skull. Any tension is the neck muscles can in turn cause tension to move to the muscles of the head causing headaches. The nerve that supplies the eye muscles also passes alongside these muscles at the base of the neck. Hence, it can get irritated and cause pain behind the eye.
What is migraine?
It is a severe headache that can be present on one side of the head and even radiate to the jaw. It is usually throbbing in nature and gets aggravated with light or sound. People may also feel an aura or dizziness associated with migraine accompanied with vomiting. Other symptoms also include radiation to the arm, tingling sensation in the fingers and neck muscle stiffness. It can be very debilitating.
Causes of migraine:
Some people are more sensitive to developing migraine than others. It can happen due to over-sensitivity of a certain nerve that originates in the brain and supplies the muscles of the face and neck. Things such as stress, light and strong smells can trigger it off. In some cases, even excessive caffeine and missing meals can trigger it off. However, if the underlying cause is related to a neck problem, the following reasons are the most common:
Are you one of those who sit in front of the computer for ages? Or perhaps you have 2 screens at work? If you are sitting for hours, it’s hard to maintain a good posture for that long. So what do we do? we slouch! This increases the pressure on the neck pushing it forward. Sitting on the edge of the chair rather than sitting right back can cause bad posture. Years and years of bad posture will eventually affect your joints and muscles causing severe headaches or migraines.
2. Whiplash injury:
Have you been in a car accident? Whiplash is a group of different symptoms that can cause neck pain and headaches.
3. Repetitive lifting:
Overhead repetitive lifting strains the joints and muscles of the neck causing inflammation around the discs. This in turn causes spasm in the neck muscles and cause severe headaches or migraine.
How to treat a migraine?
Medications will only take you so far. First and foremost it’s very important to figure out the underlying cause. Physios are trained specifically to diagnose a problem and find out the root cause of it. Getting a thorough assessment to check that in fact an underlying neck issue is the cause of your migraine, is extremely important. Just medications will not help relieve the pain. Once our Physios diagnose the root cause, they will use manual therapy techniques to treat the joints and muscles causing pain. Finally they can show you exercises to strengthen the core muscles [ yes!there are core muscles in the neck too!] of your neck to prevent future issues. It is also important to make long term changes like readjusting your posture to get longer lasting results.