Cervicogenic headaches

What is a cervicogenic headache? First you must understand that headaches are very common. There are also many different reasons for an occasional headache. However, if your headache occurs frequently, you could be suffering from Chronic headaches.

Chronic headaches are classed as headaches that occur for at least 15 days per month and for a period of six months or more. They can range from a dull throbbing in your head, to a full-on debilitating migraine-level pain. There are many different types of headache, which we will discuss in more detail below.

What types of headache are there?

Headaches are grouped into three main areas; Primary headaches, Secondary headaches (CGH) and Neuropathies.  

A Primary headache for example, migraine, tension-type headaches and cluster headaches, is when the headache itself is the main problem. It is not a symptom of an underlying disease or condition you may have.

A secondary headache (e.g. cervicogenic headache or CGH) is caused by another condition that triggers pain-sensitive areas in the neck and head.

Lastly, neuropathies, which can cause a headache, these are caused by damage or injury to the nerves that transfer information between the brain and spinal cord from the skin, muscles and other parts of the body.

What is a Cervicogenic headache?

A Cervicogenic Headache (CGH) is a headache caused by a disorder of the cervical spine which refers to the face and head area and usually but not always is accompanied by neck pain. CGH's are usually triggered by neck movements. Despite clear criteria to classify a cervicogenic headache, it is difficult to diagnose this condition and often is misdiagnosed as a tension headache or migraine.

Where do they occur?

The CGH pain is usually located on one side. Migraines also tend to be unilateral but they can shift from side to side. Tension-type headaches tend to be more diffuse, and people often describe it as a sense of pressure like a headband. CGH's tend to be non-throbbing and often start in the neck. Tension-type headaches are described as a pressing or tightening pain of mild to moderate intensity. Migraines are described as a pulsating pain.

Stress, Relaxation, Relax, Word, Voltage, Burnout

Sometimes with your CGH you will more likely be presented with a limited range of motion in the neck. Whereas tension headaches and migraines might present with sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines may also have additional symptoms of nausea and vomiting, as well as visual changes.

With your cervicogenic headache, there are several ways to decrease the pain, or get rid of it completely. Physiotherapy can help you to reduce the pain with manual techniques or Acupuncture. This improves your neck’s function and will help you to get back to your normal activities with a specific rehabilitation exercise program. 

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