Tension Headaches can be a Result of Suboccipital Muscle Spasms
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Tension Headaches can be a Result of Suboccipital Muscle Spasms

October 9, 2019

Suboccipital headaches are another common
one we see in the office where people describe this pain at the base of their head. It will
either wrap around like a big band towards the eye or they’ll shoot to the head or just
right at that eye. Some people will get a wrap over the top where just one side ends
up pounding being irritated. They’ll say, “I rub this spot right here and
it makes it feel better.” What they’re working on are the muscles in the suboccipital region.
Those suboccipital ones contribute to a lot of people’s headaches because when they spasm
and tighten up, they can grab and irritate these nerves that are coming up the back of
the head and neck. When you start aggravating those nerves, it ends up producing cascade
of events that lead to headaches, irritation, just that soreness and that pounding. If we can find ways not to have those muscle
spasm and grab that nerve, you would less likely to go into that cascade to get the
headache. What do you do? One, ice. Put an ice pack on that neck and upper back for 15
minutes. Take it off for 15 and repeat. If you do that early in the day, that will help
the muscles rest, recover, keep that irritation down so they’re less likely to get those headaches
by the end of the afternoon. Second, sit up. If you’re getting those headaches,
you probably have the tendency to lean forward and then have the head pick up especially
at the computer. When you’re doing that that’s when these muscles are really working too
hard and are more likely irritate that nerve. So people find that they can improve their
posture, they’ll dramatically decrease the amounts of headaches they get. Put a sticky note on your monitor to say “Sit
up.” Have your phone alarm go off frequently or the Outlook calendar reminder just to go
off and say “Sit up.” Mine says “Sit up, stupid.” I need that little extra reminder to get myself
to sit up and quit slouching. Overall, the less those muscles have to work
in a day, the less likely they are to get you that headache. So improve the posture,
ice, stretch, do those light range of motion exercises and you’ll see a decrease in intensity
and frequency of those suboccipital headaches.

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