Headaches affect nearly half of the population. Fifteen to twenty percent of all headaches arise from difficulties in the neck and are labelled as "cervicogenic headache." The most frequent trigger for cervicogenic headache is restricted mobility of the joints in your upper cervical spine. Usually, each of the joints in your neck moves freely and individually. Sometimes, limitations in the upper cervical spine begin a painful cycle of stiffness, muscle tightness and joint inflammation. This may create irritation to the sensitive nerves leading from your neck into the back of your head.
Cervicogenic headaches are most ordinarily one-sided, but sometimes may be found on both sides of the head. Pain frequently spreads from the base of your skull toward the top of your head and sometimes over your eyes. In rare cases, the pain may move into your arm. These headache episodes can last from hours to days. The pain constant but fluctuating and is oftentimes described as "deep." You may also take note of chronic neck tenderness and stiffness.
Be sure to report to us if you notice your headaches are growing progressively worse over time, if you encounter an unexpected onset of a severe headache, a new or unfamiliar headache, or if you notice notable neck stiffness, rash, numbness or tingling on your face, light-headedness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, difficulty walking, nausea, numbness radiating into your arms or legs, or fever.
Cervicogenic headache symptoms may be triggered or reproduced by uncomfortable movements and postures. The condition is more prevalent in patients who have recently undergone trauma, especially a motor vehicle accident or an earlier concussion. The condition usually impacts middle-aged adults and is more prevalent in women at a rate of four to one. Cervicogenic headaches are sometimes associated with poor posture, including a "slouched" or "forward head" posture.
Being dehydrated can worsen cervicogenic headaches. Make sure that you are taking 6-8 glasses of water each day, higher volumes in hot weather or when you've been perspiring. Since cervicogenic headaches occur from a mechanical problem, medicines are usually ineffective. Fortunately, our office has several mechanisms and tools to help solve this problem.