An investigation into the role of forward head posture as an associated factor in the presentation of episodic tension-type and cervicogenic headaches
Forward head posture (FHP) is a common postural abnormality, often associated with myofascial trigger points which can result in head and neck pain. The craniovertebral (CV) angle lies between a horizontal line running through C7 spinous process and a line connecting C7 spinous process to the tragus of the ear. The smaller the angle the greater the FHP. Cervical musculoskeletal abnormalities have often been linked to headache types, most especially episodic tension-type headache (ETTH) and cervicogenic headaches (CGH). Objectives: To determine whether an association exists between FHP, distance of the external auditory meatus (EAM) from the plumbline and cervical range of motion and the presentation of ETTH and CGH. Method: This was a quantitative comparative study (n=60) comparing three equal groups, one with ETTH, CGH and healthy controls. The FHP of the Subjects FHP was assessed by measuring the CV angle. A lateral digital photograph was taken to assess the distance of the external auditory meatus from the plumbline. Lastly, cervical range of motion was measured. The two symptomatic groups also received a headache diary for a fourteen day period monitoring frequency, intensity and duration of their headaches. Result: The two symptomatic groups had a smaller CV angle and a greater distance from the plumbline (p<0.05) than the asymptomatic group. The asymptomatic group had a significantly greater flexion (p=0.009), extension (p=0.038) and left rotation (p=0.018) range of motion than the two symptomatic groups. The CGH group had a significant positive correlation between the distance of the EAM from the plumbline and the intensity of headaches. The ETTH group had a significant positive correlation between the right craniovertebral angle and the mean duration of headaches. Conclusion: Therefore, it can be concluded that patients presenting with ETTH and/or CGH may have associated postural abnormalities that may act as a trigger or a contributory factor to the presenting headache.