Cervicogenic headache is a pain that develops in the neck, though a person feels the pain in their head, cervicogenic headaches are secondary headaches. Secondary headaches are those caused by an underlying condition, such as neck injuries, infections, etc. This sets them apart from primary headaches, such as migraines and cluster headaches.
The pain caused by a cervicogenic headache begins in the neck and the back of the head and radiates towards the front of the head.
Typically, people who have cervicogenic headaches experience a headache accompanies by neck pain and stiffness. Certain neck movements can provoke cervicogenic headaches.
In most cases, cervicogenic headaches develop on one side of the head, starting from the back of the head and neck and radiating toward the front. Some other symptoms of a cervicogenic headache include:
- a reduced range of motion in the neck
- pain on one side of the face or head
- pain and stiffness of the neck
- pain around the eyes
- pain in the neck, shoulder, or arm on one side
- head pain that is triggered by certain neck movements or positions
- blurred vision
Cervicogenic headaches result from structural problems in the neck and are often due to problems with vertebrae at the top of the spine, called the cervical vertebrae.
Some people develop cervicogenic headaches because they work in jobs that involve them straining their necks. People can also develop cervicogenic headaches after an injury to the neck. This is better known as whiplash.
Some medical conditions that can cause cervicogenic headaches include:
- arthritis of the upper spine
- whiplash or another injury to the neck
Treatments for cervicogenic headaches focus on removing the cause of the pain. Treatments vary depending on the person and the severity of their symptoms.
- Medication: healthcare provider may recommend a prescription or over-the-counter pain medications to relieve painful or uncomfortable symptoms these include; Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (asprin or ibuprofen), muscle relaxers, and other pain relievers may ease the pain.
- Other options: Non-surgical ways to deal with the pain include relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or yoga, and acupuncture.
- Physical Therapy: Ultimately, Physical therapy has a major role to play in mitigating symptoms of cervicogenic headaches through Manual therapy techniques such as spinal manipulation, Stretches, soft tissue mobilization as well as therapeutic exercise and modalities. The Physical Therapists will also retrain abnormal movement patterns to improve motion and quality of life.
- Work with your doctor or a physical therapist to find out what kind of exercise is best and safest for you.
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