A 46 year old woman had suffered from headaches for over 6 years. She was involved in a motor vehicles accident and injured her neck and shoulder. She denied headaches prior to the accident. Over several years, her headaches began happening more often and were getting worse. When she came to our office, she was experiencing 3 to 4 headaches a week. The headaches occurred mostly during the work week.
She described a constant dull ache at the base of her skull. As the day progressed, the intensity of the ache would increase. Eventually she would begin to feel a dull pain on her right temple. By the end of the day, she would have a strong dull headache and pain behind her eye.
Her job required her to sit and type at the computer for most of the day. She would spend most of the day looking at the computer monitor and looking down at paperwork. With increased computer time, her shoulder muscles would tighten. She often asked her husband to rub her shoulders at the end of the day.
She reported her headaches would also be worse when driving or riding in a plane. Sleeping in uncomfortable head positions would also cause her to develop headaches.
When she came into the office, she had a reduced range of motion. She could not look over her shoulders or tuck her chin to her chest. She described a strong muscle stretch when looking left or right. She described constant knots on her shoulders, that were often more tender when she had headaches.
After the exam, we explained her headaches appeared to be caused by her neck joints and muscle spasms. The dysfunction was triggering the headache cycle that would eventually lead to her developing a headache.
Treatment started with electric therapy and light stretching. She was given exercises and stretches to perform at home. She began icing her neck muscles several times a day. We adjusted the patient's joints and started utilizing massage therapy on her neck. Two weeks into treatment we started alternating Graston Technique with massage therapy to treat the muscle spasms and scar tissues in the neck muscles.
Within two weeks, her headache intensity was decreasing. She noticed greater range of motion looking over her shoulder. Her neck did not feel as sore at the end of the day.
In the third week, she only had two mild headaches. It was the first time in months that she only had two headaches in a week.
By the end of the fourth week, she did not have a headache. She felt muscle tightness and spasms, but they did not lead to the usual work related headaches.
She was very thrilled with the progress.
This former headache sufferer went on to regain full range of motion, improve her flexibility, and relax the muscle spasms. She only has 1 mild headache a month, usually after very long weeks of computer work. She does not require active treatment for her headaches. She continues to come into the office for occasional massage and adjustments.
She once told me, "I thought you were nuts when you said my headaches were caused by my neck. But my headaches were so bad; I was willing to try anything. I am really glad I did."
The combination of chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage therapy helped this women get rid of her headaches.