Headaches are extremely unpleasant and impact over half of the population. A significant portion of people suffering from headaches do so because of problems in the neck and are classified as "cervicogenic headache." In most cases, the triggering effect of a cervicogenic headache is limited movement of the joints in your upper cervical spine. Normally, each of the joints in your neck move freely and independently.
In some cases, there may be some restrictions in the upper cervical spine that initiate a painful cycle of stiffness, muscle tightness and joint inflammation. This may cause increased irritation and sensitivity in the nerves leading from your neck into the back of your head.
Cervicogenic headaches typically more prevalent on one side of your head, but also may be present on both sides of the head. Pain often is found in the base of your skull and then moves toward the top of your head and even over your eyes. In more rare circumstances, the pain may go into your arm.
These headache episodes can last anywhere from hours to days. The pain is ongoing but fluctuating and is often described as "deep." You may also be subject to chronic neck tenderness and stiffness.
Cervicogenic headache symptoms may be caused by numerous triggers but most commonly they are created by reproduced or awkward movements and postures. The condition is more commonly found when patients have recently experienced some form of trauma, such as a motor vehicle accident or an earlier concussion.
The condition often affects middle-aged adults and is significantly more common in women by a rate of four to one. Cervicogenic headaches are on occasion brought on by poor posture, including a "slouched" or "forward head" posture.
Always be sure to inform us if you notice your headaches are becoming progressively worse over time. Make sure to contact us immediately if at any point you find yourself experiencing a sudden onset of a severe headache, a new or unfamiliar headache, or if you notice significant neck stiffness, rash, numbness or tingling on your face, light-headedness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, difficulty walking, nausea, numbness radiating into your arms or legs, or fever.
If you are dehydrated this can greatly aggravate or cervicogenic headaches. Make sure that you are drinking 6-8 glasses of water each day, more in hot weather or when you've been sweating. Since cervicogenic headaches are the result of a mechanical problem, medicines are often ineffective. Fortunately, our office has several tools to help solve this problem.