Cervicogenic Headaches - what are they?
A Cervicogenic headache, is a chronic headache that arises from the Atlanto-occipital and upper cervical joints and is often misdiagnosed. They are a type of secondary headache felt across one side of the head, along with symptoms indicating neck involvement such as neck stiffness or pain. It can often be made worse by movement or sustained awkward head positioning. External applied pressure over the upper neck and base of the skull on the symptomatic side can also increase the pain.
Cervicogenic headaches are prevalent in up to 4.6% of the general population. Very often sufferers will find little or no relief in symptoms when using pain killers or other medications. Medication overuse is common among cervicogenic headache patients and may contribute to further headaches.
Struggling with severe headaches? Read more about migraines and headaches here https://www.topchiropractic.co.uk/upper-cervical-chiropractic-services/migraines-headaches/
Chiropractic care for Cervicogenic Headaches
In our office we find that when we analyse the upper cervical spine using our specialist imaging we find misalignment of the upper cervical vertebrae in cervicogenic headache patients. The misalignment of the joints of the upper cervical spine can cause the muscles of the neck to become overworked causing localised pain as well as referring pain up into the head. These muscles become tight in order to try and stabilise the area of misalignment, this is a protective mechanism.
The nerves exiting from the upper cervical spine relay signals to the area of the brain concerned with pain sensation for the neck and face. These nerves can be irritated by misalignment of the joints between the vertebrae where the nerves exit the spine. This can explain the referred pain felt at the base of the skull and behind the eyes.
Correcting the misalignment
We find that when we are able to correct the misalignment in this area the muscles relax and the local and referred pain is reduced as the muscles are no longer required to perform their protective function. The nerves that were being irritated by the misalignment are no longer irritated post-correction as the vertebrae are back in their normal position. This means the correct signals are getting to and from the brain and the headache symptoms begin to resolve.
Chiropractic management of cervicogenic headaches has been demonstrated to be effective in a growing number of case studies. Although the case studies below mainly address cases in children there is data that demonstrates similar positive outcomes in adults as well. For more information on Upper Cervical Chiropractic and how it may help with your health, please check out more in our blog section https://www.topchiropractic.co.uk/upper-cervical-chiropractic-blog/
Struggling with Cervicogenic Headaches?
Book a 15 minute Discovery Call with us here https://calendly.com/elliott-41/15min?month=2022-12
You can also read more about headaches via the links below.
Cervicogenic Headache Case Studies
Sjaastad O, Fredriksen TA, Pfaffenrath V. Cervicogenic headache: diagnostic criteria. The cervicogenic headache international study group. Headache. 1998;38:442–445.
ICHD: Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society The international classification of headache disorders, 3rd edition (beta version) Cephalalgia. 2013;33:629–808.
Knackstedt H, Bansevicius D, Aaseth K, Grande RB, Lundqvist C, Russell MB. Cervicogenic headache in the general population: the Akershus study of chronic headache. Cephalalgia. 2010;30:1468–1476.