Cervicogenic Headache: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Spinal Headaches or Post Dural Puncture Headache: Symptoms, Cause &Treatments
3 Main Causes of Sharp Pain on Left Side of Head Comes and Goes
A To Z State of Tension Headaches: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

The term “Cervicogenic Headache” refers to secondary headaches. A headache can be ‘secondary’ for another condition. Another disease or condition may be responsible for secondary headaches. Health conditions such as – high blood pressure, infections, injuries might cause these headaches. This is how they are distinguished from primary headaches such as migraine, tension and cluster headaches.

The source of the pain caused by Cervicogenic headaches is the neck, or in the back of the head, which gradually diffuses towards the front of the head.Symptoms, causes and treatments of cervicogenic headaches are discussed below.
Cervicogenic Headache

Cervicogenic Symptoms

Pain and clumsiness in the neck are caused by cervicogenic headaches.
Basically, people who are affected by cervicogenic headaches encounter a headache followed by neck pain and stiffness/clumsiness. These headaches are triggered by neck movement in certain ways.
As discussed before, mostly cervicogenic headaches form on one side of the head (back of the head and neck) and diffuse towards the front of the head.
A few symptoms of cervicogenic headache include:

   * Pain on a particular side of the face
   * Stiff neck
   * Blurry vision
   * Nausea
   * Pain below the neck
   * More sensitivity to light and sound
   * Pain around eyes

Cervicogenic Headache Causes

Structural problems in the neck and problems with the cervical vertebrae ( C2-3 vertebra ) are often responsible for Cervicogenic headaches.
Our profession can also be a factor in developing cervicogenic headaches. People might have jobs which need them to strain their necks. Drivers, labourers and hair stylists are examples of such jobs.
An injury in the neck may also trigger cervicogenic headaches, also known as whiplash.
Certain medical conditions may cause cervicogenic headache, they are:

   * Injury to the neck (whiplash)
   * Tumors
   * Infections
   * A disorder of the cervical spine
   * Fractures

Cervicogenic headache Treatments

There are several treatments that may work on removing the cause of the pain. There is a range of treatments suitable for different people, varying with their intensity of pain.
Below are some treatments for cervicogenic headaches:
There are a lot of medicines that may help in treating cervicogenic headaches
A doctor/professional might prescribe a few medications in order to relieve the symptoms. Cervicogenic headaches are treated by medications such as –
  * Antidepressants
  * Anti-epileptic drugs
  * Muscle relaxants
  * Corticosteroids
  * Aspirin or ibuprofen

Physical Therapy
An effectual way of treating cervicogenic headaches is physical therapy, as a structural problem in the neck is responsible for this.
You can consult with a licensed professional/therapist to receive physical therapy. The source of the pain might be identified at the very first appointment. After that, the therapist can work on relieving the painful symptoms.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
TENS is a way of temporary relief for the pain. The process includes using small electrodes installed on the skin to send electrical signals to stimulate the nerves which are around the source of the pain.
Radiofrequency Ablation
Radiofrequency ablation might be a useful way in treating cervicogenic headaches, and it is also synonymous to radiofrequency neurosis. In this method, radio waves are used to heat the tip of a needle. Afterwards, a doctor will apply the needle to the nerve that is sending pain signals to the brain, and the heat from the needle will start to deaden the nerve, preventing it from sending pain signals.
Nerve blocks
In this procedure, an injection containing pain-numbing medicine will be injected into the nerves and joints in the head and neck. This is also helpful in finding the source of the pain.
When other treatments fail to relieve the painful symptoms of cervicogenic headaches, people often choose this method. This process involves placing electrodes on the back of the head/neck. Then, it is connected to a pulse generator, and these electrodes start to stimulate the occipital nerve ( A nerve which runs from the top of the spinal cord to the head ).
Home Remedies
There is a form of physical therapy known as – called sustained natural apophyseal glide (SNAG). Basically, a towel is used to manipulate the areas of the neck that are responsible for the painful symptoms. There are video tutorials on SNAG in the internet that may come in handy or a Physical therapist is always there to teach you how to do SNAG at home.
Certain exercises and alternative treatments can also help relieve pain. Such as –

  * Yoga
  * Flexion and extension exercises
  * Deep breathing exercises
  * Rotation exercises


Untreated cervicogenic headache can unwind into a major shape at a later state and deteriorate one’s health. If you are continually experiencing cervicogenic headaches, be sure to consult with an expert.
When to see a doctor?
If you experience vision loss, as well as headache, then it is high time you should visit a doctor.
If headache is experienced along with the conditions listed below, then you should consult with a doctor:

  * Inability to speak
  * Difficulty in walking
  * Muscle weakness
  * Nausea
  * Vomiting
  * Fever
  * Rash
  * Confusion

A cervicogenic headache is a kind of secondary headache, caused by problems with the neck. A malformation of the cervical vertebrae, neck injury, inflammation etc. might be the cause for a cervicogenic headache.
Untreated cervicogenic headaches can degenerate health condition and can reach such a state that is unrepeatable by medications.
People can make an appointment with a licensed professional to determine the source of the pain, deciding how to alleviate it, and applying specific methods.
These symptoms may also be relieved at home, or by other means such as – therapeutic, medicinal and surgical methods.