"My headaches begin at the base of my skull and travel up both sides of the back of my head."
Evan is a programmer who works long hours at his computer. His chair is an "ergonomic" chair but doesn't seem to fit right. His desk is a "sit-stand" desk but he's unsure how tall it should be for sitting or standing. His monitor is large but not adjustable and feels too low, so he adjusts the desk higher or angles the monitor upward in an attempt to raise it. Adjusting the desk higher helps the neck but makes his shoulders work harder because he has to lift his hands higher.
What Evan is sure of is that something about his workstation isn't right because he gets neck aches and pain up the back of his head almost every work day, but not on weekends. His MD attributes his pain to muscle tension and gave him medication that helps but doesn't last.
Spine shape evaluation revealed an exaggerated thoracic spine curve. Evan hunches. He leans over his keyboard and mouse while looking up at his screen, maybe 2,500 hours per year. His spine shape reflects exactly that position. As a result, the neck predictably displays excessive inward curve that compresses neck joints below the skull and shortens neck muscles, thus making them progressively tighter and therefore weaker.
Not only does this inadvisable posturing cause neck muscles to chronically splint (and ache), it also causes them to squeeze delicate nerves that course through them on their way up the back of the skull...exactly where Evan feels pain. The name for his condition is Occipital Neuralgia. It's very annoying and can cause sudden, severe, lightning-type pain.
The problem is mechanical and postural. Correction requires decompression of the back of the neck and base of the skull. Evan learned to use ice and isometrics for the pain (see Blogs 5 and 6) and then worked on improving the shape of his spine, especially thoracic and neck curves, as well as overall posture (see previous blogs). For correction of Evan's workstation, please see Blog, #14. For this condition, correcting spine shape, postural habits, and workstation configuration, effectively eliminates symptoms and improves function.