As a large majority of the American workforce transitioned to working from home in early 2020, so too came an increase in physical ailments associated with the transition, namely an increase in non-traumatic neck pain in workers who were spending more time in a chair and less time moving throughout their day.
Along with this new onset of neck pain came an increase in work-related headaches after long hours looking at a screen. While some may identify an increased level of stress as the cause of these headaches, the root of the problem may be more mechanical in nature.
A cervical tension headache is characterized as pain that begins in the back of the neck/head and radiates up one or both sides of the skull in a “Rams Horn” type pattern. This pain may culminate in pain over/behind one eye or temple and can be aching or sharp in nature.
When sitting at a desk for over 20 minutes, it is common for the head to migrate forward in front of the body, the shoulders to round and the thoracic spine to bend forward. This sustained posture for days, weeks and months leads to a disturbance of normal “Length – Tension Relationships” in neck muscles. Specifically, shortening (or tightness) in the Sub Occipital muscles.
Sub Occipital muscles are in the back of your neck and run from the base of your skull to your cervical spine. It is often poor mobility in these muscles that results in trigger point pain that can radiate from the back of your neck up and over your head. Furthermore, restriction in the length of these muscles often prevents normal head movement from occurring smoothly, resulting in difficulty rotating or bending your neck.
The good news is that these tension headaches are usually remedied by restoring the length-tension relationship of these Sub Occipital muscles.
For an enlightening discussion of cervical tension headaches and other causes of neck pain in the workplace, be sure to attend our upcoming virtual seminar “Neck Pain in The Workplace,” hosted by Dr. Gabriel Kresge PT, DPT, of Kinetic Physical Therapy, on Tuesday, November 17, at noon.
Register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We will send you the Zoom log-in details.
For physical therapy inquiries, contact:
Dr. Gabriel Kresge PT, DPT