It has been estimated that upward of 50 percent of the population will have suffered a headache in the past year.

For some, that number may seem low.

Unlike most musculoskeletal conditions, there can be a multitude of causes behind your headaches. Some headaches may be caused by hormones or food sensitivities. Other may be triggered by dehydration or the weather.  But for a large majority of headaches, the root cause often comes from dysfunction in neck muscles.

At the base of the skull there is a group of small muscles, called the suboccipitals. These very tiny muscles are responsible for movement of the skull and the first two vertebrae in the neck. With the modern day lifestyle these muscles are under constant stress and strain. Sitting at a computer for an extended time, grinding your teeth, poor posture and even previous injuries or accidents to the neck (think whiplash) can damage these tiny muscles, altering joint motion and function.

The most common result of overuse and trauma in the muscles is adhesion.


Adhesion may be a new term for you. Adhesion is one of the most common causes of pain, decreased flexibility, and strength. Adhesion is a buildup of fibrotic, or “scar-like” tissue, on muscles or around nerves. When present, it continues to alter load, posture and increase strain on the neck. If adhesion is present, it can be a root cause of your headaches and needs to be fixed in order to find relief.

So how can you know if you have adhesion present? Fortunately, there is a very easy test that you can do at home. Start by standing flat against a wall — heels, butt, shoulder blades and the back of the head should be touching the wall. If you cannot get your head to touch the back of the wall, the test already is positive and the presence of adhesion is most likely. If you are able to get the back of the head against the wall tilt your head back slightly until the jaw is parallel to the floor. Slowly try to tuck the chin to your neck without the back of the head leaving the wall. Any pain, or tension in the base of the neck or lower, is a positive test.

Continue the test by trying to touch the chin to the top of your chest. If you find this painful, “tight” or are unable to reach your chest, adhesion is the most likely cause of pain.

Healthy cervical flexion.
Healthy cervical flexion.


In order to reduce or eliminate your headaches, these tests must be cleared. In order to pass these tests, adhesion must be eliminated. Manual therapy to the affected tissues is the most effective and fastest way to relief.

At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are full body certified through Integrative Diagnosis for the diagnosis and treatment of adhesion.  Many patients of our office have tried numerous providers before finding relief in our office.  If you have been struggling to find relief from headaches, we invite you to call our office today at 319-423-0925 and get to the bottom of your pain!  We also invite you to like and share this with friends and family who may be in need.

Thanks for reading!