Many people suffer from chronic headaches. Some headaches can be attributed to stress or tension, but the latest medical literature1 reports that some cases of chronic headache are caused by a problem in the neck—and that they are often misdiagnosed or unrecognized by physicians.
These headaches are known as "cervicogenic headaches," since they have their "genesis" in the cervical spine. They arise when the nerves, joints, or muscles of the neck are injured or strained. Pain signals from the neck can get mixed with nerve pathways of the head and face, and can create pain in seemingly unrelated parts of the body.
Cervical spine dysfunction can cause pain in any part of the head, and cervicogenic headaches are usually focused on one side. These types of headaches can last for many hours or days, and are usually described as a dull, aching pain. Neck movement, injuries, or an awkward posture can trigger these headaches. Medication may relieve pain temporarily, but if the root cause of the pain is not eliminated, the symptoms will just return down the road.
The first step in treating headache is to take a careful history and perform a thorough physical exam. This will help us determine the precise source of your pain, and help us design an effective treatment plan.
Chiropractic can be a great way to treat headaches, since we work specifically with the spine to make sure that it is functioning properly. If you suffer from regular headaches, contact our office for an appointment.
Biondi DM. Cervicogenic headache: a review of diagnostic and treatment strategies. JAOA 2005;Supplement 2;105(4):S16-S22.