Headaches, Hygiene and Pillows

We hear about dental hygiene and how to eat right, but when was the last time you considered if you slept well; in a way that does not stress the spine. Most of us know it’s important to avoid head and neck trauma because serious and devastating injuries can occur. Less understood, are how minor and cumulative stresses over time, can affect the soft tissues in the neck.

If you have never suffered a neck trauma, then maintaining good neck habits is less critical. But most of us have had a few kinks in the neck over the years, and we tend to suffer when problems are not prevented in the first place.

Keeping your neck supple and flexible with daily stretches can help many patients. Others may need to do daily controlled exercises to keep the muscles strong. A doctor can advise you on your specific needs. It’s important to be diagnosed properly before starting any stretching or exercising program.

Ever wonder why your neck might be stiff in the morning? Maintaining good spinal hygiene while sleeping is also important. Eight hours of bad posture can be a significant problem.

Because there is naturally an arch formed in the neck when you lay on your back, a pillow can be designed to support the middle of your neck. These types of pillows are called cervical pillows or neck support pillows. Researchers from Canada (J Can Chiro Assoc, 2004) used a semi-custom pillow in patients with neck pain (with or without headache) to test its effectiveness. The patients used the pillows over four weeks. In this randomized and controlled study, the patients that used the pillows had significantly less pain in the morning. They also looked at the patients’ ability/disability over time and discovered that this also improved in the group that used the custom pillows.

Our clinic provides patients with spinal hygiene exercises and advice to care for problems over time. This can be key to you avoiding re-aggravation of your condition and to prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Many headache patients seem to benefit when they pay attention to the stresses on their neck. It can be looking at a computer screen with the head down or something as simple as the type of pillow you use while sleeping.