Cervicogenic headaches are one of the more common types of headaches and make up approximately 15% of all headaches. Women are four times more likely to expereince cervicogenic type headaches than men.
The International Headache Society describes cervicogenic headache as headaches that are caused by a disorder of the cervical spine (neck) which can involve the bones, discs or soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons) of the neck. Cervicogenic headaches can often be accompanied by neck pain.
Signs and Symptoms
Cervicogenic headache is usually one sided and the pain usually starts in the neck with a radiation towards one of the eyes where the pain is most intense. Pain is often triggered by neck movement or pressure against structures in the neck.
The pain can arise from any part of the cervical spine (neck). When a chiropractor examines you they may find a decrease in the movement of your cervical spine or muscluar tightness in the surrounding area. By pressing into the tight muscles around the neck this may reproduce the headache. Sometimes pain can radaite towards the shoulder or arm on the same side as the headache. The intensity of pain varies but patients with this kind of headache can experience constant pain and one episode can last for days.
A chiropractor will perform a thorough case history and physical examination of your head and neck. The chiropractor will discuss with you what they find and if they believe you are suffering with cervicogenic type headaches, they may use spinal manipulation to improve the movement of joints in the neck and reduce pain. The chiropactor may also use a number of soft tissue technqiues such as trigger point therapy, which can help to relax tight muscles. It is also common for a chiropractor to give advice about exercises than can be done to help to prevent headaches or reduce there frequency and severity. Xray imaging of the neck is rarely necessary for cervicogenic headache.
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· Haas, M., 2018. Dose-response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for care of cervicogenic headache: a dual-center randomized controlled trial. The Spine Journal, [Online]. 18(10), 1741-1754. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1529943018300779 [Accessed 22 June 2019].
Frontier in Neurology. 2016. Mobilization and Manipulation of the Cervical Spine in Patients with Cervicogenic Headache: Any Scientific Evidence?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2016.00040/full. [Accessed 29 June 2019].