Chiropractic & Physiotherapy

Headaches & Migraines, Part 2

In a blog I wrote a while ago, I explained that a commonly misdiagnosed headache is a migraine. Many patients mistaken their unilateral (one-sided) headaches as migraines when they actually could be from a variety of secondary headaches.

You can read the blog here:

So, what are secondary headaches? Secondary Headaches are headaches that are present due to another condition. These include:

  1. Neck pain/Cervicogenic headaches: From degenerative arthritis, disc injuries
  2. Sinus congestions or flu/cold
  3. Bleeding in the brain or stroke
  4. Head injuries or whiplash
  5. Tooth pain or Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) or Jaw pain
  6. Others

These headaches have different presentations and can radiate to different parts of the face.

Most secondary headaches are due to cervicogenic headaches or headaches that are related to the spine and our posture. Bad posture can lead to anterior head carriage which increases the weight of our heads and this in turn creates a burden on our neck muscles and cervical (neck) spine. A lot of this is presented as trigger points. These muscle knots radiate pain across our heads, necks and upper backs recreating and reminiscent of primary headaches such as migraines or tension-type headaches.

Cervicogenic headaches could also be due to something more serious such as degenerative arthritis or a herniated disc in your neck. Degeneration causes bony spurs to form in your cervical spine which can lead to impingement of nerves and muscles which can then radiate pain that mimics a primary headache, especially migraines.

Disc injuries in your neck can also lead to headaches mimicking migraines but more likely if you have a disc herniation or disc degeneration in your cervical spine (neck), you would have associating symptoms such as numbness, tingling or pins and needles down your arm and/or in your finger tips on one or both sides.

Research has shown that a combination of pharmacologic and manipulative interventions are proven to be the most effective way of treating a cervicogenic headache or any headaches that started in your neck and upper back.

Again, always remember: the first step is to correctly diagnose your headache, the second step is to proceed with treatment. So if you have headaches or suffer from migraines, neck pain or upper back pain, come in to Healthworks and let me help diagnose you and help you improve your quality of life.

You can always read more on the different types of headaches on the International Classification of Headaches Disorder website: