Pain in the Neck and Back with Migraines – Cervicogenic Headache
Cervicogenic headaches are considered secondary headaches, which means there’s usually another medical condition that’s causing this one. In many cases, cervicogenic headaches happen as the result of high blood pressure, which we know is also linked to migraine.
Cervicogenic headaches usually manifest because of a physical issue and a structural problem, whereas migraines are often the result of certain foods like sugar or dairy, or environmental factors like stress or physiological challenges such low thyroid or adrenal function.
What Are Cervicogenic Headaches?
So, how do you know if you’re suffering from one of the many different types of migraine or a cervicogenic headache?
For starters, cervicogenic headaches are unique in that they only affect one side of the head. In most cases, holding the head in an awkward position triggers these types of headaches. The cervical spine (neck) is home to many critical nerve networks, arteries, muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. Because of this complexity, when there is a disorder of the cervical spine, it can lead to side effects such as cervicogenic headaches.
Symptoms of Cervicogenic Headaches
The typical cervicogenic headache patient may experience any of the below symptoms:
● A reduced range of motion of the neck
● Tender spots on the neck
● An intense headache on one side only
● Pain that worsens when the neck is moved in a certain way
● Pain that worsens when the neck is held in a specific position
● Pain that radiates from the neck or back of the head to the front of the head
● Pain behind the eyes
● Constant head pain
● The intensity of the pain shifts between moderate and severe
● Neck pain
The fact cervicogenic headaches are often triggered by a structural issue tells us a lot. In many cases, migraine and chronic headaches are treated with pain medications and other treatments that mask the symptoms, rather than resolve them.
If we shift this focus and look at cervical neck instability as the potential cause, we open the door to more effective treatments, such as chiropractic treatments and spinal manipulation. Instead of feeling helpless and frustrated, it’s time to take control of the symptoms and figure out what underlying condition could be causing such discomfort.
What You Can Do About It
As with migraine and any other type of headache, the main goal of any treatment is to get rid of the pain at its source. When it comes to cervicogenic headaches, treatments that focus on addressing structural problems of the neck are a great place to start.
Think functional medicine, chiropractic care, physical therapy, spinal manipulation, nerve blocks, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and other methods of alternative and relatively safe treatment options. Every patient is different, and it’ll take time to find what works for you.
If any of the above rings true and you think you may be suffering from cervicogenic headaches, don’t live with them. Cervicogenic headaches are often quickly remedied as long as you are looking in the right place.