Cervicogenic Headache

Headache is an extremely common symptom and the most common of the nervous system disorders.  Nearly 5 in every 10 individuals will be diagnosed with a headache.  It affects the young and old, all races and genders, but mostly females.  There are many types of headaches and amongst them, chiropractors have found that the trend for cervicogenic headache is rising.  Most clients here at Healthworks whom were diagnosed with neck pain often times are associated with cervicogenic headache.

As the name suggest, Cervicogenic Headache is referred to pain (pain perceived as occurring in a part of the body other than its true source) perceived in the head from a source in the neck. It is usually described as a one-sided pain that starts in the neck. Headache is said to happen after neck movement. Furthermore, it usually accompanies a reduced range of motion (ROM) of the neck. Detailed examination is needed to prevent misdiagnosis of a migraine, tension headache, or other primary headache syndromes.

There are a few key points in order for the health practitioner to make these diagnosis:
1. Source of the pain must be in the neck and perceived in head or face. Evidence that the pain can be attributed to the neck. It must have one of the following: demonstration of clinical signs that implicate a source of pain in the neck or abolition of a headache following diagnostic blockade of a cervical structure or its nerve supply using a placebo or other adequate controls.

2. Pain resolves within three months after successful treatment of the causative disorder or lesion

How does Cervicogenic Headache happens?
Often times, stress (poor posture, neck strain, whiplash) towards nerves of C1-C3 may relay nociceptive nucleus of the head and neck. It is thought to be the cause for referred pain to the occiput and/or eyes.

Ways of improving Cervicogenic Headaches
1. By Improving posture, it minimizes the amount of stress that is placed through the structures of the neck thus reducing the pressure on the nerves.

2. Chiropractic manipulation has shown to be effective in dealing with Cervicogenic Headaches (CGH) because CGH is related to neck joint dysfunction, several studies of varied research designs have shown that spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is effective for CGH. Systematic reviews of randomized control trials using manual therapy in CGH patients suggest better outcomes compared to no treatment.

3. Therapeutic exercises. Stretching and strengthening the postural muscles to emphasize upright posture.  A good ‘proprioceptive posture’ begins from the core, ensuring the patient knows how to activate the transverse abdominus and brace the entire core.

As a chiropractor, I believe having to find the root cause for CGH is a priority in ensuring a more successful outcome. Careful diagnosis is a vital component as there are different triggers for headaches. If there are any queries to this article, please WhatsApp us at 018-9828539 or call us at 03-6211 7533.