David R. Beatty and Camilia Makyhoun

David R. Beatty, DO, Professor of Osteopathic Principles and Practice, WVSOM

Camilia Makyhoun, Assistant Editor, WVSOM Class of 2016

Monday, March 11, 2013

THE NECK BONE'S CONNECTED TO THE HEAD BONE

Normal neck motion
(David R. Beatty, drawing by
William A. Kuchera, DO, FAAO)


Neck stiffness and ache along with associated back of the head pain are most often caused by muscle spasm and joint stiffness that can be safely treated at home. Occasionally, however, headache will have a more serious cause.






Seek evaluation by a health professional if your headache is associated with:
  • a blow to the head
  • confusion or dizziness
  • explosive beginning
  • fever, chills, sweating
  • progressive worsening
  • severe neck stiffness
  • visual changes
  • worsening with cough or sneeze
  • worst headache ever





CERVICAL POSITION OF EASE

Posterior cervical position of ease (WVSOM)
  1. Lie on your back and insert a small pillow or rolled up towel under your neck;
  2. Allow your head to fall back over the pillow and rest on the floor;
  3. If the neck still hurts, slowly turn the head away from the side of pain until it decreases;
  4. Once neck pain is gone, take a few deep breaths and rest in that position for 2-5 minutes unless dizziness, blurred vision, or nausea develop;
  5. Slowly remove the pillow and roll to one side before getting up;
  6. Proceed to the CERVICAL EXTENSOR STRETCH;
  7. Use this position of ease 2-4 times a day or as needed for pain relief.







Cervical extensor stretch
(WVSOM)
CERVICAL EXTENSOR STRETCH
  1. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and the back straight;
  2. Place your hands on the back of the head;
  3. Keeping the back straight, let the chin drop down toward your chest, allowing the weight of the arms to pull your head downward;
  4. Take a few deep breaths and stretch for 10-20 seconds, avoiding pulling on the head with the arms;
  5. If no increase in pain, proceed to the LEVATOR STRETCH;
  6. Do this stretch 1-4 times a day.








Right levator stretch (WVSOM)
LEVATOR STRETCH
  1. Sit up straight with your feet on the floor and hold onto the chair with one hand;
  2. Hold the top of your head with the other hand;
  3. Allow the head to slowly fall first forward and then to the side away from the tight muscle as far as it will comfortably go;
  4. Take a few deep breaths and stretch for 10-20 seconds, avoiding pulling on the head with the arm;
  5. Repeat for the other side;
  6. If no increase in pain, proceed to the CERVICAL JOINT MOBILIZATION;
  7. Do this stretch 1-4 times a day.








Right cervical joint mobilization (WVSOM)
CERVICAL JOINT MOBILIZATION
  1. Lie on your back and use one hand to grip both sides of the back of your neck just below the tight area;
  2. Use your other hand to gently and repetitively move the head into sidebending around the hand at the back of the neck;
  3. Repeat for the other side if needed;
  4. Do this joint mobilization up to twice a day if helpful.



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