Are you finding you have more headaches, working at home?
Follow along as Symmetry Physiotherapy moves from head to toe looking at common conditions we see in clinic and in our telehealth consultations. Lets start at the top with our head and the increase in headaches, a symptom of poor posture.
Headaches and Posture
With many people working from home, posture related neck and back pain are becoming increasingly common in the clinic. We have seen a significant increase in the number of people presenting with headaches related to poor posture. Already, 4.9 million people in Australia suffer from a headache or a migraine (that’s roughly 15% of the population). An estimated cost of $35 billion to the economy (1). Of those, 71% are women and 86% are working age (1). Throw into the mix a sudden change in working conditions and the complex stressors that we are all dealing with. This painful condition is becoming even more prevalent.
Causes of headaches
Poor postures often occur in prolonged sitting and standing positions and often develop from long periods of time at a computer. The link between poor posture and headaches is the neck. During computer work; we often lean forward, look down at our keyboard and remain in a stationary position for long periods of time. This can put extra strain on ligaments, muscles and tendons of the neck and upper back causing them to become overstretched and painful. If they are constantly in the incorrect position, these structures may become tight, and normal movement may become more difficult.
Headaches caused by the neck are known as cervicogenic headaches. Cervicogenic headaches originate from the upper cervical spine, a region that has nerves supplying the head and scalp and several muscles that attach directly onto our skull. Excessive tension or strain to the muscles, ligaments and discs in this region can cause the sensation of pain into the head or face, and light-headedness and dizziness. Typically, these headaches are felt at the base of the skull or behind the eye, but this can vary significantly.
Other symptoms can accompany headaches originating from the neck, such as limitations in neck movements and neck pain. We frequently see them in people who spend prolonged periods in poor postures; such as working all day at computers or driving. We can associate them with stress and tension and sometimes by traumatic injuries to the neck (i.e. car accident).
Treatment of headaches
It is important to have a physiotherapy assessment to determine if your headache is coming from the neck and establish if they relate to your posture. If appropriate, treatment can be aimed at relieving the stiff joints, stretching the tight muscles, or strengthening the muscles to significantly improve your posture and reduce the problem. If symptoms persist, we will communicate with your G.P. or other relevant medical practitioner to ensure further investigation and management of your condition.
- Migraine: Migraine Australia (2017) http://headacheaustralia.org.au/migraine