By: Dr. Larry A. Johnson, D.C.
Has it ever occurred to you that while you are happily typing away on your computer for hours on end you are actually creating a problem in your neck that can lead to chronic migraine headaches or tension headaches? If you suffer from migraine headaches or tension headaches it may be something you should investigate.
When a person with migraine headaches or tension headaches visits a chiropractor for their pain what does the chiropractor typically do for that patient? The usual treatment for most headache patients is to manipulate, or adjust, the neck. Chiropractors teach us that most headaches come from neck problems, and that by adjusting or manipulating the neck tension and migraine headaches can be relieved or cured.
Over 80% of headache patients that receive chiropractic treatment show improvement that ranges from slight improvement up to complete elimination of their headache pain. If this is the case then it seems logical that the majority of migraine headaches or tension headaches originate from spinal (neck) problems. It also seems logical that if we knew what was causing these neck problems, and eliminated what was causing them, we could also eliminate the headaches, both migraine and tension.
As a chiropractor for 25 years I have treated many patients with migraine headaches and tension headaches. After examining thousands of patients I discovered that as many as 95% who were experiencing headaches had one thing in common, a reversed cervical (neck) curve. From the side view a normal neck should have a slight curve in it. But in my experience as a chiropractor I estimate that approximately 95% of my patients with headaches had either a lessening of that curve, no curve at all, or a curve that was completely reversed. When these "poor neck curvatures" were treated with chiropractic adjustments most showed great improvement.
Chiropractors know that headaches can be caused by "poor neck posture," so the next question becomes "can sitting at a computer cause poor neck posture?" If the answer is yes, then it's very obvious that sitting at a computer can and does cause headaches.
People usually develop poor neck curvatures because of poor posture habits. Anything a person does that places their head in a position forward to their body will lessen or reverse their normal neck curve. And poor neck curvatures DO cause headaches. Chiropractors have been teaching this for decades.
The types of activities that can lead to poor neck posture include sitting at a computer for extended periods of time, reading with the head bent forward, sitting while slouching in a chair or on a couch, sleeping with the head or neck in odd positions, or any other activity that places the head in a position forward to the body. So, to answer our original question, yes, headaches can be caused by sitting at a computer. Sitting at a computer can cause an abnormal neck curvature to develop which can cause headaches.
Good posture can surely prevent the development of poor neck posture, which would seem to be the best remedy, but what can be done if the lessening or reversal of the neck curve has already been developed? Obviously, chiropractic treatment is an option that could be considered. But there are many other alternative treatments for tension or migraine headaches.
Most people just take a pain pill. But are pain pills the best approach? They surely are in some cases, but there are many other headache treatment options that don't require the use of potentially harmful drugs. All drugs have side effects, some of which can end up being worse than the headaches themselves. Before treating your health problems with drugs it is wise to seek the advice of a health professional.
There are many natural remedies for migraine headaches or tension headaches. These include stress and tension reduction, ice therapy (used at the base of the skull), eliminating food triggers, getting the proper amount of rest, biofeedback, headache pillows or cushions, exercise and many others. Some of these may help relieve headaches, both migraine and tension, and could be investigated further.