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Forward head posture and headache, migraine

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Today I would like to talk about studies linking forward head posture with headaches and migraines (not to mention Arnold’s neuralgia).

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As I said before, these pages are as well for people interested in the studies on this subject as for professionals who might not know these links. As an individual, you can ask your doctor, physiotherapist, or practitioner to consult these pages.

And again, given the large number of studies, I have only put in summaries or conclusions of the studies, but you can click on the links to read the summary, and for professionals, read the whole of it. ‘article if you are interested (for some studies, you must have special access to read the entire article).

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In addition, it should be understood that the existence of a link between the posture of the head forward and the disorders mentioned, does not necessarily mean causality. However, given that on the one hand the poor posture observed in young people (who are also often symptomatic at the beginning) and the appearance of symptoms in older people (adults) and the fact that rehabilitation for cervical rectitude is accompanied by improvement in symptoms, it is possible to assume a causal link between the loss of cervical lordosis and some of these disorders and symptoms.

Finally, the studies are cited in chronological order starting with the most recent studies to the oldest (from 2021 to 2001).

Loss of cervical lordosis, cervical stiffness, reversal of cervical curvature, and headaches and migraines

October 2020

Article Title: Subjects with Chronic Primary Headache Have a Taller Forward Head Posture than Asymptomatic People and Patients with Primary and Episodic Headaches: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Conclusion: There is moderate to strong evidence that patients with chronic primary headaches (including tension headaches and migraines) have a greater forward head posture than asymptomatic individuals and moderate evidence that patients with chronic headache Chronic primary headaches exhibit a larger forward head posture than those with episodic primary headaches.

July 2019

Article Title: Cervical Musculoskeletal Disorders in Migraines and Tension Headaches: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Conclusion: Compared to controls, patients with tension headaches had a greater forward head posture and less range of motion at the cervical level. Patients with tension headaches had more cervical musculoskeletal disorders than patients with migraine.

November-December 2018

Article Title: Analysis of Head Posture and Cervical Extensor Activation During Low Load Task in Women with Chronic Migraine and Healthy Participants

Conclusion: A forward head posture was moderately correlated with the increased electrical activity of the superficial neck extensor muscles in women with chronic but not episodic migraines.

December 2017

Article Title: Analysis of craniocervical curvatures in migraine subjects with and without neck pain

Conclusion: Subjects with migraine presented with a decrease in cervical lordosis.

November 2016

Article title: Relationship between trigger points and head/neck posture in migraine patients.

Conclusion: Our study supports the hypothesis that active trigger points are associated with reduced cervical lordosis and head extension in people with migraines.

December 2013

Article Title: Measurements of Musculoskeletal Physical Outcomes in People with Tension Headaches

Conclusion: People with chronic tension headaches, compared to controls without headache, consistently showed more trigger points, increased pain sensitivity, and more severe forward head posture.

Summary :

These different studies clearly show an association between, on the one hand, the loss of cervical lordosis or forward head posture and, on the other hand, primary headaches, that is to say migraines and tension headaches.

Different hypotheses are proposed to explain the relationship between cervical stiffness and tension and pain around the head. It has been found that a greater number of “trigger points” or “trigger points” are present in the muscles of patients with a forward head posture. Some people find a bi-directional relationship between the posture of the head forward and the trigger points so that this posture can cause muscle contractions and the multiplication of the trigger points which in turn worsen the posture of the head forward. The increased presence of these trigger points is commonly linked to an overactivation of the trigeminal nerve and therefore of the trigeminovascular system which is often involved in head pain, whether migraines or cluster headaches.

The forward head posture can also disrupt the functioning of other systems that are involved in migraines: the oculomotor and especially the vestibular systems.

This is why in our practice, helping patients suffering from headaches, migraines, Arnold’s neuralgia or cluster headaches includes a chiropractic approach to reduce joint blockages, remove nerve irritations, and relax the back muscles. neck but also analysis and rehabilitation in functional neurology which may include vestibular, oculomotor or proprioceptive rehabilitation.

In the next article on the same topic, I will talk about the studies concerning the links between the posture of the head year before and the respiratory problems and the function of the body.

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