Is There Support for the Paradigm ‘Spinal Posture as a Trigger for Episodic Headache’? A Comprehensive Review
Purpose of Review
The International Classification of Headache Disorders provides an extensive framework to classify headaches. Physiotherapy is indicated if neuromusculoskeletal dysfunctions are involved in the pathophysiology. Maladaptive postures seem a dominant trigger in tension-type and cervicogenic headache. Yet, outcomes following physiotherapy vary. The absence of protocol studies to identify determinants concerning the role of spinal posture in headache might explain such variability. Hence, multi-dimensional profiling of patients with headache based on interactions between spinal posture, psychosocial and lifestyle factors might be essential. Therefore, the aim of this paper was to perform a comprehensive review to find support for the paradigm of spinal posture triggering episodic headache based on a multi-dimensional view on tension-type and cervicogenic headache including modern pain neuroscience.
A review was conducted to support spinal posture-induced episodic headache. Pubmed, Web of Science, Pedro and the Cochrane database were explored based on the following ‘Mesh’ or ‘Topics’: ‘Headache’, ‘Posture’, ‘Spine’, ‘Psychosocial’, ‘Lifestyle’. The contemporary review of neuroanatomical, biomechanical and non-nociceptive pathways, with integration of modern pain neuroscience in tension-type and cervicogenic headache, supports spinal posture as a trigger for episodic headache. Maladaptive postures can activate C1-C3 nociceptors. Convergence with trigeminal afferents at the trigeminocervical nucleus could explain spinal headache. Interactions with psychosocial and lifestyle factors might contribute to peripheral and central sensitisation.
Neuroanatomical, biomechanical and non-nociceptive pathways seem to justify profiling patients based on a postural trigger. Further research is needed to determine the contribution of postural dysfunctions in headache and the effect of specific interventions.
KeywordsPhysiotherapy Spinal posture Neuroanatomy Biopsychosocial Profile Episodic headache
Forward head posture
Rectus capitis posterior minor
Diffuse noxious inhibitory control
Autonomic nervous system
Periaqueductal grey matter
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Sarah Mingels, Wim Dankaerts, and Marita Granitzer declare no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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