Neck pain at the base of my skull

January 9, 2014

Alison asked The Guru for the following Physiotherapy Advice:

Dear Guru,

I have been having neck pain right at the base of my skull, most specifically on the right hand side.

I used to get it occasionally but now I’ve had it for just over a week. The pain seems to be mainly just at the base of my skull, but is radiating up my head, making my scalp a little tender and giving me headaches, as well as into my shoulders and down my back. I have pretty tight shoulders and neck generally (I got a massage last week and she commented on it).

I have a desk job and spend all day at a computer which I’m sure doesn’t help, and generally exercise 3-4 times a week. Any tips to ease this off? Currently using OTC painkillers, such as ibuprofen gel or tablets.



January 9, 2014

Hi Alison

This is super common – which may sound like a blessing in disguise!

You’re very right about how it works with the tight shoulders and neck but, but the cause is the key.

You need to be given the ability to move better – to make your stiff bits move more and the bits which are being jammed together, move less. In an ideal world you need to get someone to make your thoracic spine move more – you need the external force to change the status quo. If you can move more here, you’ll move less elsewhere and so help diminish the pain at the base of your skull.

Posture at work is key – chest up, screen in front of your face and you should be able to touch your screen when sitting back in your chair. Your chair is set at 100, not 90 and your elbows rest just in front of your body. Stand tall when walking, but not sergeant major like! See our video

The worlds greatest stretch – it can’t be painful, lie like this for 10 minutes when you come in from work, and not just before you go to bed. Try it for the next 5 days AM and PM

Remember, it’s not what your’e doing that causes the problem, but it is how you do it that is….

The Guru

Guru Responded

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