Not all headaches are created equally. Although they are all equally annoying, there are quite a few different types of headaches out there. Today in this blog we will discuss cervicogenic headaches and what chiropractic care can do to help reduce those symptoms.
Let's start off by describing what exactly these headaches are and what seems to cause them. These headaches are actually referred to as 'secondary headaches' because they are caused by an underlying condition. This means that, in order to fix this specific type of headache you must first address the original neck issue responsible for creating the pain to begin with. The cause is primarily associated with the cervical spine, discs and surrounding soft tissue that refer pain to a different location. With cervicogenic headaches the pain usually starts in the neck and works its way up to the back of your head and then radiates to the front of the head. People who deal with these headaches also have neck pain and stiffness that accompany the headache symptoms.
The following are the most common symptoms associated with cervicogenic headaches:
-Decreased Range of Motion (ROM)
-Worse pain with certain movements (ROM)
-Pain and stiffness on one side of the neck
-Pain on one side of the face
-Pain in the shoulder on the affected side
Pain while coughing or sneezing
-Nausea (more common with migraine headaches)
-Blurred vision (more common with migraine headaches)
Now that we know some background information, what exactly causes a cervicogenic headache? There are multiple right answers. A lot of the issues we deal with here in the office deal with structural misalignments with the upper cervical vertebrae. Postural imbalances over time certainly can put pressure and stress on the base of the skull, triggering a cervicogenic headache. An injury to the neck known as whiplash has also be attributed to causing cervicogenic headaches. The following medical conditions have also been shown to cause CH: tumors, fractures, infections, osteoarthritis, and disc issues.
So what is the best treatment plan to help with the symptoms associated with cervicogenic headaches? Co-management of this condition would be ideal, possibly with a physical therapist to strengthen and stabilize the posterior neck muscles, but chiropractic care has been shown to decrease symptoms associated with cervicogenic headaches. (2)
Through chiropractic care we look to return misaligned vertebrae in your spine so that your nervous system can function at its optimal level. By returning certain vertebrae, primarily C1-C3, to their normal physiological space we are able to decrease stress and pressure put on blood vessels and sensory nerves that supply the upper neck and head. With adjustments we are able to restore proper range of motion and decrease pain and stress associated with vertebral subluxations If you have any questions about cervicogenic headaches or any other headaches for that matter and how we address them with treatment plans feel free to ask us in our office!
1) "File:CGH-Differentiation.png." Physiopedia, . 10 Dec 2013, 11:13 UTC. 7 Nov 2019, 19:03 <https://www.physio-pedia.com/index.php?title=File:CGH-Differentiation.png&oldid=84899>.
2) Chaibi A, Knackstedt H, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache: a single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial. BMC Research Notes 2017;10:310.doi:10.1186/s13104-017-2651-4