Cervicogenic Headache – Causes and Treatments
What is a cervicogenic headache, and how does it differ from other types of headaches? Cervicogenic is simply a fancy medical term that indicates the headache originates from a problem in the neck. It is estimated that anywhere between 4-22% of all headaches are this type of headache. In most cases, identifying and resolving the problem in the neck joints can help resolve the headache pain. In fact, neck headaches are among the simplest to resolve, with treatment often offering immediate relief.
Causes of Neck Headaches
Neck headaches can be caused by any of a variety of structures in the neck, including the joints, muscles, or spinal cord coverings. Most often, the source is a problem in the first three vertebrae, but may also involve the muscles or nerves in your neck, or some combination of the three.
Neck headaches can be the result of joints that are either too stiff or too wobbly due to weak muscles. As these joints grow stressed and painful, the pain signals are relayed to the brainstem, where they are experienced as headache or even face pain.
Your chiropractor can help you pinpoint the causes of your neck headaches and offer suggestions to help ease your pain.
Symptoms of Neck Headache
Unfortunately, neck headaches can be difficult to diagnose, and are often mistaken for other types of headache, especially because not all neck headaches cause neck pain or stiffness. The most common symptoms of neck headache include:
- Pain or tenderness around the base of the skull or upper part of the neck
- Stiffness in the neck or loss of movement, though this may be subtle and may go unnoticed.
- Pain that starts in the back of the head and radiates to the front
- Pain that may either be aggravated or eased with movement, changes in position, pressure, or massage
- Pain that is more intense on one side consistently
Diagnosing Neck Headaches
If you’ve been suffering from headaches for a while, you may want to ask your chiropractor whether they could be caused by a problem in your in your neck. This isn’t something that can be diagnosed with a scan, x-ray, or MRI, though they may help identify possible causes. Your chiropractor can, with a few questions and a thorough exam of your neck, determine the likelihood that this is the cause of your problem.
Treating Neck Headaches
Chiropractic treatment can offer rapid relief from neck headaches. The chiropractors at Chatfield chiropractic are experts in diagnosing and treating neck headaches. Once your chiropractor has determined the exact cause of your neck headaches, a course of treatment will be developed. Treatment options for neck headache include:
- Muscles and joints that are too stiff may be loosened using gentle joint adjustment techniques, stretching, massage, or relaxation techniques
- Joints that are unstable may be treated with exercises designed to strengthen supporting muscles, including neck and shoulder muscles
- Neck headaches caused by poor posture may be treated with exercise, awareness techniques, or support devices such as tape or a brace
- Finally, your chiropractor may recommend ongoing exercises, relaxation techniques, or other strategies designed to prevent the problem from recurring in the future.
If there are no other aggravating factors to your neck headache, you may experience immediate relief, though more severe neck headaches may take a few days to a few weeks before complete relief is achieved.
To learn more about neck headaches and how chiropractic care can help reduce your pain, call Chatfield chiropractic in Roxburgh Park on (03) 9303 9952 or in Sunbury on (03) 9746 3977.