My client sits in front of a computer all day, and by the end of the day, she complains of a headache. I have noticed that she has limited motion in her neck region. Could the headaches be attributed to muscle tension in her neck?
Headaches are common dilemmas that affect many people. Headaches come in a variety of forms, depending on their causes and their symptoms. They can range from a dull, minor ache to a debilitating migraine. Common forms and symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Eye strain headache: frontal pain
- Tension headache: constant pain, in one area or all over the head
- Exertion headache: generalized headache during or after exercise
- Caffeine headache: throbbing pain caused by blood vessels that have dilated
- Migraine: severe throbbing pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound
- Fever headache: headache with fever due to inflammation of blood vessels of the head
- Cluster headache: severe throbbing pain, often on one side and sometimes caused by stress, alcohol or smoking
- Hunger headache: low blood sugar, moodiness
- Menstrual headache: migraine type pain due to variations in estrogen levels, shortly before, during or after menstruation or at mid-cycle
- Sinus headache: nagging pain over nasal/sinus area
- Hangover headache: throbbing pain and nausea
- Hypertension headache: generalized pain affecting a large area of the head and aggravated by movement. Usually caused by severe high blood pressure.
Experts estimate that 90% of all headaches are tension headaches and 6% are migraines. Tension headaches, as the name implies, are caused by muscular tension. Migraines result from a disturbance in the blood circulation to the brain.
In your client’s situation, it is very probable that her limited range of motion is a result of muscular tension, and this tension could be a contributing factor (if not a main factor) to her headaches.
Common symptoms associated with tension headaches
- Constant pain in one are or all over the head
- Sore muscles with trigger points in neck & upper back
Common causes associated with tension headaches are:
- Emotional stress
- Food allergies
- Poor posture
- Sedentary lifestyle
Review the above symptoms and causes with your client to investigate the possibility that her headaches are tension induced. If indeed her headaches are tension induced, stretching the tight muscles will:
- Reduce muscle tension
- Improve circulation
- Reduce anxiety, stress, and fatigue
- Improve mental alertness
- Make your client feel better!
Having your client stretch during your sessions will not be enough! Have her stretch every hour at work or as much as possible (if she is in pain, she’ll listen). The key is creativity in your program design. For example, you can teach your client to stretch:
- At the fax and or the copier
- While the computer is processing
- Drinking fountain – lavatory
- Five minute lunch stretch
- As she stands to move about the office
- While on the phone
- At her desk
Remember, always seek and treat the cause of the headache, not the symptom(s). Referring your client to a trained specialist who deals with headaches is always the best route to take. Never diagnose a client unless you are qualified to do so.