September 25, 2018 Cervicogenic Headaches

What Are Cervicogenic Headaches?

There are numerous causes of a recurrent headache that often persist for many years. The 3 most common types are a migraine, tension-type headache plus headaches secondary to any disorder in any of the top 3 or 4 joints in your neck. These neck-related headaches are usually referred to as cervicogenic headaches.

These types of headache are often felt on one side of your head predominately. It’s not always the same side, but there is a side dominance. Neck headaches can swap sides but 1 side is worse than the other. Its intensity is of mild-to-moderate intensity, and it’s always followed by neck pain or movement restriction, usually rotation, to the most dominant side of symptoms. The restriction or pain starts in your neck, then spreads to cause a headache.

Causes of Cervicogenic Headache

Excessive strain due to poor working postures (working in an awkward neck posture, prolonged sitting) can end up irritating the upper joints of your neck and result in a headache. Also, your joints can be injured by trauma. It could be a motor vehicle crash, recreational or sporting injury. In people who are in the older age or middle-aged groups, osteoarthritis (OA) of the upper neck joints can be the common cause of cervicogenic headaches.

Headaches and neck pains are worsened by working or sitting in one (usually poor) posture for a long time. An increase in computer and screen (phone, tablet) use is very common. Your headache is usually aggravated by neck movement. Your neck is tender and any movement is slightly restricted or stiff. Approximately one-third (33.33%) of people suffering from cervicogenic headache also report visual disturbances or unsteadiness and some light-headedness or nausea.

How to Know If You Have Cervicogenic Headache

Sometimes, it can be difficult to know when you’ve a cervicogenic headache because the symptoms of different kinds of headaches are usually similar. Neck tenderness and pain are common symptoms of a cervicogenic headache, tension-type headache and migraine.

In tension-type headache and migraine, this neck pain is usually a spread of a headache into your neck. On the other hand, it’s the opposite when it comes to a cervicogenic headache. The pain begins and spreads into your head. This headache is typically from a cause in your neck. Moreover, in a cervicogenic headache, neck movements are painful and or stiff. Correct diagnosis is vital because each type of headache needs a different treatment method. Your physiotherapist plays a role in diagnosis.

How Physiotherapists Can Help

By mobilising the cervical joints at C1, C2, C3 and C4, your physiotherapist can help to modulate your central neurology that’s producing the referred head pain as well as the autonomic changes. It also restores your necks normal movement. It isn’t uncommon for that to have a nearly immediate effect on your pain response.

Turramurra Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy can help to assess whether physiotherapy treatment will suit your needs and after completing your treatment, we can help in creating ways of improving your cervical core stability as well as devise ongoing rehabilitation that may be needed. While this is an excellent way of helping alleviate pain, if you’re prone to this type of headache, our physiotherapists can help you in moving forward. We can modulate the circuits’ excitability within your brainstem, which is going to help control the tendency for neck and head pain with an ongoing home exercise programme.

Contact our team today to discuss whether or not we can help or take advantage of our Free Phone Consultation on 9144 1510 for a no obligation discussion with 1 of our physiotherapists.

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