Many people experience neck pain at some point in their lives. Neck pain is the third-leading chronic pain complaint in the US alone, with 15% of people reporting constant or recurring issues with their necks. If you suffer from neck pain from an injury or neurological issue, then you may experience another debilitating side effect as well--cervicogenic headaches. Learn what these headaches are, how to diagnose them, and how they may be linked to your neck pain.
What is a cervicogenic headache?
A cervicogenic headache is a pain that is felt in the back of the head near the base of the spine. These headaches are recurring, and can often feel like migraines. In some cases, the pressure and pain from these headaches can travel up the back of the head and around to the front of the face, resting uncomfortably behind or on the sides of victim's eyes. Since these headaches are based in the upper cervical spine and share a nerve base with the blood vessels where other serious head pain derives from, cervicogenic headaches are often misdiagnosed as migraines or cluster headaches.
How do I diagnose a cervicogenic headache, and how is it connected to my neck pain?
When you encounter a neck injury or have a misalignment in your spine, your upper cervical spine can be affected as a result. This results in acute or chronic neck pain, which your chiropractor can treat. Your chiropractor manipulates your joints and spine to put your neck back in proper alignment, thus improving your mobility and reducing your pressure and pain.
When a person has a mild or moderate neck pain and fail to seek treatment, or they quit going to their chiropractor when their pain has subsided, they may encounter cervicogenic headaches as a result. These headaches are caused by the pressure placed on the upper cervical spine due to a neck injury, and can happen at any time. A person can also encounter cervicogenic headaches months after a neck injury has healed, thus making it harder to make the connection between the two.
The best way to diagnose a cervicogenic headache is to visit your chiropractor. Explain to them when you received your neck injury, what you have done to treat it, and when your headaches began. You will want to tell your chiropractor where your headaches begin and how often you receive them. Your chiropractor will check your spine for pressure on your upper cervical spine.
If you have had a neck injury or neck pain and also suffer from headaches at the base of your neck, the two may be connected. Your chiropractor can help diagnose and treat your neck pain so you can finally begin to heal.