Cervicogenic Headache is a headache originating from neck structure and is classified as a secondary headache. Cervicogenic headaches are usually caused by weakness of neck muscles or arthritis or lack of mobility of neck spinal joints or poor posture. Cervicogenic headaches are common after motor vehicle accident injuries or after injuries involving neck, upper back and head such as work related injuries.
Cervicogenic headaches differ in intensity and typically get worst as the day goes by or with stress. Unlike migraines, headaches originating from the neck do not switch sides but remain side-specific. These headaches can be managed by applying heat, cold or massage.
People suffering from Cervicogenic headaches will benefit from a range of treatments including physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapists who will examine the pain intensity, neck mobility, muscle involvement. The Physiotherapist or chiropractor may utilize manual therapy technique appropriate to the individual’s tolerance. The manual treatments improve cervical spine’s mobility and improves blood circulation to the soft tissue and spinal joints to help the person regain range of movement. The passive or manual portion of treatment is usually complemented by education and exercise therapy for long lasting results and to prevent recurrence.
Most of the time, cervicogenic headache starts at the base of the head and skull and then diffuses to the front and sides. Many times patients report some degree of strain on the eyes or feeling eye fatigue. The headache can intensify with computer work or still postures.
Common treatment options are:
At Physiomobility, Cervicogenic headaches are mainly treated by physiotherapists and chiropractors. Massage therapy adds value to the treatment by relaxing tense neck muscles and improving blood circulation to head. Acupuncture may also be employed by our practitioners to manage the pain. Regardless of what type of professional treats your headache with manual therapy, you will be given exercises to strengthen your deep neck muscles to decrease pressure and in turn, decrease your headache. In addition to the exercises given at the clinic, you will be provided with a program for home use.
By: Gita Mikal, Registered physiotherapist