A cervicogenic headache is, by its definition, any headache which is caused by the neck. The term ‘cervicogenic’ refers to the cervical or neck area of your spine. The pain of cervicogenic headache originates in the neck and then spreads to the base of the skull, side(s) of the skull or around the eyes. The headache initially starts as occasional episodes and often progresses to a continuous pain. Pain may be triggered or aggravated by neck movement or a particular neck position; it can also be triggered by stress. Manual therapy such as osteopathy has been shown to be an effective treatment for cervicogenic headache.
Causes & Risk Factors
The most common cause of a cervicogenic headache is excessive amounts of stress to the joints and muscles within the neck. The risk factors that can contribute to this type of headache include fatigue, poor sleeping position, wear and tear, cervical disc problems, current or prior neck trauma, poor posture and stress.
The diagnosis of cervicogenic headache begins with a detailed case history and physical examination. This is often all that is required to establish a working diagnosis. Other diagnostic tests may be performed such as blood pressure and heart rate: Alternatively if appropriate you may be referred back to your GP to receive additional testing such as CT or MRI scans.
Management of cervicogenic headache usually includes:
- Analgesics such as ibuprofen or aspirin
- Postural advice
- Massage and trigger point therapy
- Joint mobilisation or manipulation
- Exercise therapy
- Lifestyle advice
If you are suffering with neck pain or headaches, give one of our clinics a call to find out if we can help.