Many of us know that sitting and having good posture have become a part of our daily lives. Sitting in the same static position on a daily basis can cause a lot of problems with your posture that can eventually cause pain in unexpected locations. Headaches can be caused by issues that aren’t actually in your head. A cervicogenic headache is caused by shortening of muscles in and around your neck and at the base of the skull. Tight muscles can develop painful knots called trigger points and these trigger points can refer pain up from your neck to different parts of your head. Dry needling comes into play as a method of treatment for headaches by releasing tension in those tightened neck muscles and trigger points. Once you loosen those chronically tense neck muscles, you’ll be able to work on getting out of your poor posture and movement habits.
The Tension Around Your Head
This type of tightness in your neck muscles usually happens because of incorrect posture patterns. Many of us tend to hold a lot of tension up around the shoulder and neck muscles. This could be due to a lot of different aspects of our daily lives. Tension could result from:
• General stress and muscle fatigue
• Overall poor posture
• Constantly sitting at poorly designed work stations
• Carrying heavy items
• Using a shoulder strap for heavy bag
• Prolonged sitting in car seats while driving
Once you have that shortening of the muscles, your neck shifts into a forward head posture. The pulling at the base of the skull and in the neck is what causes the pain to extend up and around your head. The pain can also refer to different places around your head, like behind your eyes and around your temples. Taking painkillers like NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) will help with pain levels, but they won’t ultimately solve the source of the issue. The goal with trigger point dry needling treatment is to release tension in those muscles, restore muscle length, and ultimately decrease pain.
Treating Your Triggers
Dry needling acts as an effective treatment option because it allows tension to be released from the muscles in your neck. Since certain types of tension headaches are caused by muscular issues, they can be solved by directly treating those restrictions. A certified physical therapist can palpate the base of your skull, neck, and upper spine to look for knots in the muscle called active trigger points. Trigger points are tight areas of your muscle that are usually caused by trauma or repeated strain. Once the needle makes contact with those trigger points, they’ll cause a twitch response, or a small contraction. Contact with the needle causes an actual chemical change inside the muscle that releases tension, increases blood flow, and heals the issue. You’ll be getting rid of the trigger points that are causing tightness in your neck while also solving the source of your headaches.
Moving Back Into Alignment
Once those muscles are released, you’re also giving your body the chance to start moving back into correct spinal alignment. Extended periods of sitting or poor postural habits in general might have thrown all the muscles in your neck and upper back out of sync. Some may be too tight and others too stretched out and lengthened. After needling, you’ll able to bring the muscles along your upper spine into their proper ranges of motion. You’ll be able to move your head and shoulders back into the positions they’re supposed to be in. Without treating the restrictions around our neck and upper spine, you won’t be able to improve your posture.
Healing The Source Of Your Headaches
Using dry needling as a treatment method for muscular-based headaches will release the tension at the source of the pain. The goal with dry needling is to decrease the intensity as well as the frequency of your headaches. For example, if you’re used to experiencing a headache for the entire day you might start having a headache for only a few hours a day. After a few more sessions, you may not feel any pain around your head at all. Once you have the necessary range of motion you need around your neck and upper spine, you’ll be preventing any future headaches from happening. Consider dry needling for your headaches by getting rid of them in the present as well as healing the muscles to prevent the issue from happening in the future. If you have any questions about whether or not the headaches you’re experiencing can be treated with dry needling, call us at Therapydia Denver.