A cervicogenic headache typically begins with pain on one side of the neck that then progresses up to the head from either the cervical spine or soft tissues of the neck. The pain may also originate from the shoulder blade region. The headache may last between 3 hours to a whole week and recur at various intervals from days to months long. The headache will be triggered or made worse with specific neck movement or holding a neck position for a long period of time. Some people who suffer from cervicogenic headaches also report migraine-like associated symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. This type of headache is frequently associated with degenerative changes to the upper spine, which means that a cervical x-ray is often necessary for a proper diagnosis.
Taking a closer look, recent literature explains the relationship between headaches and the use of chiropractic manipulation to alleviate pain and discomfort. In particular, cervicogenic headaches can be caused by dysfunction in the upper segments of the neck. Treating the misalignments and other musculoskeletal issues in the upper neck region through chiropractic care has shown to be a safe and effective way to provide long term headache relief.
As a new patient you will have a thorough patient history taken by your chiropractic doctor. You will also have a physical examination and x-rays taken in order to provide you with a diagnosis and develop a specified treatment plan.
Once a cervicogenic headache is accurately diagnosed, treatment may be as follows:
- management with chiropractic manipulations for an initial period of 1 to 3 weeks
- management with soft tissue therapy (myofascial release)
- modification of behaviors which are pertinent to the cause of the headache (sleep, diet, and exercise)
- possible use of supplemental support or herbal alternatives
If you suffer from chronic headaches which may or may not be relieved with over the counter medication and are looking for a long term solution, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Hack GO, Koritzer RT, Robinson WL, Hallgren RC, Greenman P E. Anatomic relation between the rectus capitus posterior minor muscle and the dura mater. Spine. 1995;20:2484-2486.
Rutten HP, Szpak K, van Mameren H, et al. Anatomic relation between the rectus capitus posterior minor muscle and the dura mater (comment). Spine. 1997;22:924-925.