Headaches may be caused by stress, eyestrain, fatigue, or trauma – but whatever the cause, they are miserable to have to live with. Sometimes, however, the answer to stopping a headache in its tracks is isolating what is actually causing the pain. However, cervicogenic headaches are caused by an entirely different set of problems, dealing with the nerves, bones, or muscles in your neck. Although the pain shows up in your head, the source of your pain is not there at all, but is instead “referred pain” from another part of the body.
Cervicogenic headaches are rooted in the cervical spine, neck, or base of the skull. Because they often feel like migraines, they can often be misdiagnosed. But a migraine originates in the brain, and is an entirely different ailment. Knowing which is which can allow you to more successfully alleviate the pain.
Symptoms of a Cervicogenic Headache
Because cervicogenic headaches (CH) originate in the neck, they often occur when you move your neck too quickly, or if your neck has been in the same position for a long time, such as after a long drive. CH pain may manifest as a pain in the side of your head or face, a steady pain which does not throb, increased pain when you cough or sneeze, pain lasting for days, or a stiff neck with limited range of motion. You may also experience pain that remains and reoccurs in one spot, like over the same eye.
You may also feel similar symptoms to classic migraines, such as nausea, sensitivity to bright light or sounds, or blurry vision.
What Causes a CH Headache?
There is no one cause for CH. you may experience these types of headaches if you have problems with
- Neck vertebrae
- Neck joints
- Neck muscles
- Compressed nerves
CH can afflict people who have certain jobs, such as hairstylists or truck drivers; and is a direct result of how people hold their heads. come from problems with the bones in your neck (vertebrae), joints, or neck muscles that happen over time. For example, people in certain jobs, like hair stylists, carpenters, and truck drivers, can get CH from the way they hold their heads when they work.
Sometimes people hold their heads out in front of their bodies in a forward head motion which puts extra weight on your neck and upper back. CH can also be a result of a fall, sports injury, arthritis, or whiplash due to a car accident.
In extreme circumstances, these types of headaches can be caused by a small break in the spine, or even a tumor.
It may be difficult for an individual to self-diagnose a cervicogenic headache, and it is typically best to consult with a chiropractor for advice. He or she will need to know if:
- The headache tends to gets worse as it goes along
- You suffer a fever or rash along with the pain
- You have been in an accident or hit your head recently
The above may indicate that you have a more serious health problem which requires different treatment. You should seek emergency medical care if severe headache pain comes on rapidly and is accompanied by dizziness.
If it is determined that you do have CH, there are several ways you can alleviate or eliminate the pain completely.
- Although no longer considered the best option for anything but temporary relief, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (aspirin or ibuprofen), muscle relaxers, or other pain relievers may give rapid relief.
- Stretches and exercises can help to alleviate the pain in your neck. Be sure to check with your chiropractor as to exercises which may be safe and appropriate for you.
- Spinal manipulation to realign the nerves, bones and muscles in your neck.
If you are suffering from headaches, don’t keep suffering or taking endless OTC medications. Call West Coast Wellness and come in for a consultation to discuss how we can help ease your pain.
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