Suboccipital headaches are one of the many headaches we treat in the office. They can either be a tension-like or migraine-like headache. They begin in the back of the head, called the suboccipital region. People often describe this as the base of their skull, or where their head meets their neck. They often feel tightness, tenderness, and soreness when they touch the muscles in this region.
The suboccipital muscles are involved with normal postures, neck movements, turning, and lifting motions. When we sit at a computer with our head forward and our head slightly tipped these muscles are doing a significant amount of work. This poor posture eventually causes the muscles to become tired, fatigue, and injured. In some people this can produce headaches.
When the suboccipital muscles go into spasms they can entrap the nerves that travel through the suboccipital region. By compressing the suboccipital nerves they set off a series of events that lead to either a tension or a migraine like headaches. People often feel relief when icing, stretching, or rubbing the suboccipital muscles. In the early stages rubbing the suboccipital region can reduce or eliminate a headache.
When the headaches progress often palpating the suboccipital muscles intensifies the headache. Some people feel a tension band or headache that moves towards the eye. When pushing on the suboccipital muscles it may increase the intensity of eye pain.
Suboccipital headaches are improved with over-the-counter NSAIDs, ice, stretching, therapy, electric, ultrasound, and cold laser treatments. Goals of treatment are to decrease muscle spasms of the suboccipital muscles and trapezius. The poor posture of slouching forward and tipping the head up causes additional injury and spasms to the trapezius and upper back muscles. Treatment always looks at improving these muscles as well.
Treatment will focus on improving posture when standing and sitting, to relieve stress and strain on the muscles. In addition massage therapy is excellent at decreasing muscle spasms, pain, tenderness, and tension in these muscles. Stretching will be utilized to enhance flexibility. Strengthening exercises will be utilized for the weak muscles of the neck and shoulder complex.
Graston Technique is a very effective tool at decreasing the scar tissue and spasms associated with poor posture, headaches, and suboccipital spasms. Often people with suboccipital headaches have had poor posture for many years, and grass and helps decrease the fascial adhesions and scar tissue from years of poor posture.
Suboccipital headaches are one of the many headaches that respond very well to treatment in the office setting. The intensity, frequency, and duration of headaches can be quickly improved with appropriate treatment. Long-lasting improvement requires changing postures, habits, and activities of daily living that aggravate the suboccipital region.
If you or someone you know is experiencing headache at the base of the skull that radiates towards the eye and is relieved with ice, rest, stretching, or over-the-counter medications. If rubbing the upper neck can reproduce or relieve the pain you may be suffering the suboccipital headaches. Treatment in our office can very quickly eliminate and reduce your headaches and improve your pain free activities.
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