How Chiropractors Treat Cervicogenic Headaches?

Chiropractic Management Of Cervicogenic Headaches!

Cervicogenic HeadachesCervicogenic headaches are classified as a secondary headache due to the pain arising from the neck as opposed to the head. The primary nerve in the cervical region associated with cervicogenic headaches is the occipital nerve, located at the base of the skull. one of the main treatments for cervicogenic headaches is addressing the pain generator.

The first step to treating cervicogenic headaches is correctly identifying the source. The most common cause of cervicogenic headaches is the lack of support by key postural muscles causing increased stress on overactive muscles. Other than receiving a diagnosis from a healthcare specialist, a frequent symptom of cervicogenic headaches is tenderness or pain in your neck. Cervicogenic headaches are headaches which result from spinal problems in the neck, such as disc degeneration or prolapse or facet joint arthritis.

What is a Cervicogenic Headache?

If you experience headaches that seem to come from your neck, you may be suffering from a cervicogenic headache—a condition that still leaves many headache specialists scratching their heads.

What Does A Cervicogenic Headache Feel Like?

A cervicogenic headache is located on one side of the head, like a migraine, and it is usually triggered by certain neck movements. In addition to head pain, a person may also experience same-sided shoulder or arm pain. Nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and phonophobia can also occur but usually to a lesser intensity and frequency than in migraine attacks.

Scientists and doctors are still puzzled by the precise cause of cerviocogenic headaches. That being said, the first three spinal nerves—known as C1-C3 of the upper or cervical spine where your neck lies— are thought to be involved in the majority of cases. The diagnosis of this condition is challenging, as its symptoms overlap with other types of headaches.

In addition, there is no consensus on exactly how this disorder is diagnosed. There are two sets of criteria described by different groups, the International Headache Society, or IHS and the Cervicogenic Headache International Study Group, or CHISG. Read more here.

Because the root cause of cervicogenic headaches is generally a structural problem in the neck, many treatments aim to realign or manually manipulate the neck into a better position.

Cervicogenic Headaches Start in the Neck

A cervicogenic headache starts in the cervical spine—your neck. Sometimes these headaches mimic migraine headache symptoms. Initially, pain may begin intermittently, spread to one side (unilateral) of the patient’s head, and become almost continuous. Furthermore, pain can be exacerbated by neck movement or a particular neck position (eg, eyes focused on a computer monitor).

Potential Causes of Cervicogenic Headaches
The cause of a cervicogenic headache is often related to excessive stress to the neck. The headache may result from cervical osteoarthritis, a damaged disc, or whiplash-type movement that irritates or compresses a cervical nerve. The neck’s bony structures (eg, facet joints) and its soft tissues (eg, muscles) can contribute to the development of a cervicogenic headache.

Role of Spinal Nerves
Certain spinal nerves structures are involved in many cervicogenic headaches. Spinal nerves are signal transmitters that enable communication between the brain and the body via the spinal cord. At each level of the cervical spine is a set of spinal nerves; one on the left side and one on the right of the spine. C1, C2 and/or C3 may be involved in development of cervicogenic headaches because these nerves enable function (movement) and sensation of the head and neck. Nerve compression can cause inflammation and pain. See more here.

Chiropractic management of cervicogenic headaches is the best way to eliminate these headaches and the best way to prevent cervicogenic headaches is to keep the muscles and bones of the neck healthy.

Cervicogenic Headaches

Treatments For Cervicogenic Headaches

The specific treatment for cervicogenic headaches varies by patient and by what is found to be the cause of the headaches. For patients whose cervicogenic headaches are a result of damage to vertebral discs, there is often underlying inflammation contributing to nerve irritation. In this case, an injection of a steroid may suffice to reduce the inflammation and relieve the pressure on the nerve.

For patients with a severely damaged or herniated cervical disc, a steroidal injection may not be sufficient. In that case, surgery may be a better option for long-term relief. The tissue bulging from a herniated disc may put pressure on the surrounding nerves, including the occipital nerve. Excess disc material can be surgically removed to relieve pressure on the surrounding nerve fibers.

If the problem found in the neck is a result of musculature, then muscle-specific treatment options may provide short- and long-term relief. In the short-term, muscle relaxants can be used to relieve strain of the neck muscles. Following successful pain relief by muscle relaxants, more long-term muscle-related approaches can be taken. For patients who are prone to neck injuries, they may benefit from muscle exercise and strengthening, while many patients may find long-term benefits from physical therapy using a combination of stretching and exercise. Read full article here.

Cervicogenic Headaches Can Be Relieved With Adjustments & Exercises

Initially, pain from cervicogenic headaches is concentrated around the occiput at the base of the skull then as a headache progresses it radiates up and over to the forehead.  Cervicogenic headaches are sometimes misdiagnosed as either migraine headaches or cluster headaches, both of which originate in the head. Usually, these headaches are unilateral, meaning they start on one side at the back of the head, migrate towards the front, and sometimes cause arm pain. This kind of headaches are unilateral, starting from one side of the posterior head and neck, migrating to the front, and sometimes are associated with ipsilateral arm discomfort.

While many people are familiar with tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines, cervicogenic headaches are in a category of their own that is less well-known. For patients whose cervicogenic headaches are a result of damage to vertebral discs, there is often underlying inflammation contributing to nerve irritation. Treatment for cervicogenic headaches will usually involve some soft tissue massage to relieve and ease tension in the muscles involved, some spinal manipulation to free up and joints that are not moving well and possibly acupuncture to help relax the patient. For more information on how to treat your cervicogenic headaches, you may call us here: (619) 831-8777, cervicogenic headaches have proven to be treatable with Chiropractor In San Diego.

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Author: Allison Yardley

Allison has 6 years in practice as a Chiropractor's Assistant and is a licensed Massage Therapist who writes for numerous blogs online. Feel free to comment or ask questions regarding any of Alley's blog posts.