Is Your Neck Causing Your Migraine?

BY: Katie Myos

Very few people can escape the burden of a headache. The throbbing pain, even when minor, can be enough to inhibit work and leisure activities. Even thinking can be painful.

More than 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches. Migraines are severe, recurring headaches characterized by sharp pain and often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances. The most common causes of migraines can be related to:

-Muscle tension

-Stress or anxiety




-Vascular issues

-Abnormal spine mechanics


Without realizing it, many of us put excess stress on our necks every day because of poor posture, ergonomic set-up or stress.

Sitting with poor forward-head posture causes important neck-stabilizing muscles to lengthen and weaken and other muscles to tighten in the back of the head. This tightness can cause a headache and interfere with vascular blood flow to the head, triggering a migraine.


Physical therapy offers several options for treating migraines that originate in the neck:

-Manual techniques including soft-tissue and cervical mobilization to improve cervical motion and reduce muscle tension

-Strengthening and stability training for the head and neck muscles with an emphasis on improving posture and neck alignment

-Breathing techniques to increase blood flow to the head, reduce tension in the neck muscles, and alleviate stress

-Ergonomic assessment for both work and leisure activities to lessen neck tension

If you suffer from migraine headaches, consult with your physician about treatment options, including working with a physical therapist.


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