Headaches following a crunch in the base of my skull

August 9, 2017

Almost a year ago, I threw my head back while laughing and something literally crunched in the base of my skull / top of my spine and it hurt!

In the weeks / months after I had almost constant headaches and even a panic attack.  I tried physio, which helped and then made it worse.  I had a CT scan and was advised that nothing was wrong.

3 months later I ended up having an MRI – again was told nothing showed up that would explain the neck pain / headaches.

For the past 8 months I have been trying to keep the headaches at bay by doing exercises at night (trying to strengthen my neck muscles) – sometimes this works, sometimes not.  I know posture is a big factor – jutting my neck out while working!  What I guess I’m wondering is if more physio could help?

Not sure what else to do 🙁

August 9, 2017

Hi Suzanne

It all depends on what “more physio” means.

It shouldn’t be anything that can be plugged in and shouldn’t be anything which is painful and should try to steer away from where someone does something to you and maybe even no to muscle stretching or strengthening, as I’m sure weakness isn’t the issue.

So what would I do?

Well, it’s good that all your scans show nothing amiss – so you’ve got an issue with what your doing rather than what you’ve got. This is why sometimes some of the exercises help and sometimes they don’t.

I don’t think it the exercise which is the issue but it’s how you do them.

You can do “strength” type exercises in any position if having a weak neck was the core issue. I don’t think this is the issue, but lack of control (of maybe the strength) is. To get control you need to make sure HOW you do the exercise is of utmost importance rather than just doing the exercise.

I think you’ve got a pretty decent understanding of why you’ve got HA’s but just understandably frustrated at why they persist despite your rehab.

So I think you need to focus on quality and not quantity – form is key.

Your need rehab to promote and maintain thoracic spine mobility, control your head on neck, control of your deep neck flexors, control of your scapula and cuff muscles – not strength and not stretching.

At 8 months in you tissues will also be super sensitive to change and so don’t expect overnight success or even straight line progress as your expectations and perception of pain will have changed.

Go see a decent physio – and discuss the above, but chronic headaches can be successfully treated with decent physio.

The Guru

Suzy replied: Thank you very much for the below.

I forgot to mention that the headaches get worse and increase in number if I put my head down for any length of time – like reading or looking down at my desk.  I have to make sure I keep my head up all the time.

I will sort some physio now.

Thanks again for your advice.

The Guru responded:

Hi Suzy
Seems fair – you’ve lost the ability to move “well” when looking down – you just look down, and as long as you’re looking down your happy. But you don’t do it very well – a little like driving the car with handbrake on, it still goes but slowly and not very well.
You need to be given the ability to move “better” not more – you don’t need to be stretched into looking down as this won’t improve the quality of what you do (it just gives you quantity of movement and if you can’t control this will increase your headaches.)
Really concentrate on getting more mobility through your thoracic spine and be shown how to get better control of your head on neck.

The Guru

Guru Responded

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