Cervicogenic headache treatment: 4 common methods of pain relief

We’ve all experienced a headache at one time or another. From staring at a computer screen for hours at work to not drinking enough water, there are many everyday reasons that you can develop a headache. But not many people know that there are multiple types of headaches. In fact, there’s a headache that doesn’t stem from your head at all.

Cervicogenic headaches consist of referred pain, in which the pain feels like it’s coming from a different area than the source. In this case, the pain stems from a neck or spine issue. But how can you relieve the pain? That’s what we’re here to answer.

Read on to learn the basics of this headache as well as cervicogenic headache treatment options, both at home and with the help of a health care professional.

What is a cervicogenic headache?

A cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache, which means that the pain is a result of a different medical condition. It causes chronic and recurring pain that is referred from the neck, or the cervical spine region, that moves up the back of your skull, then to the front. 

Cervicogenic headache symptoms include:

  • Pain on one side of your face or head.
  • Pain around your eyes.
  • Pain that flares up after neck movements
  • Reduced range of motion due to neck stiffness.
  • Nausea.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Noise and/or light sensitivity.

Cervicogenic headaches are most common for people in their 30s, and the average age range is from 30 to 44. It affects up to 4% of patients. Cervicogenic headaches are usually caused by a neck condition or injury, including:

  • Osteoarthritis.
  • A degenerated disc.
  • Whiplash.
  • Sports injury.
  • Falling.
  • Poor posture.

Cervicogenic headaches are often confused for migraines. But while a migraine stems from the brain, a cervicogenic headache comes from the neck.

4 common cervicogenic headache treatment options

When you’re exploring treatment options for a cervicogenic headache, it’s important to remember that you need to focus on alleviating the pain from its source. That’s why cervicogenic headache treatments target the neck as opposed to the head. 

There are a few options that you can try. Some are self-care options that you can do at home, while others will require the assistance of a health care professional.

Here are four common cervicogenic headache treatment options for pain relief:

  1. Medicine — Ask your doctor about taking pain medication for temporary relief. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen, ibuprofen and aspirin can help alleviate your cervicogenic headache at home. Depending on the severity and frequency of your cervicogenic headaches, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants or prescription-strength NSAIDs.
  1. Injection — Your health care provider may recommend a steroid injection to reduce your cervicogenic headaches. They can administer a cervical epidural steroid injection near your spine to reduce inflammation and chronic pain. There is also the option of cervical radiofrequency ablation, which impacts the pain signals that are being transmitted up to the brain.
  1. Exercises — A physical therapist can walk you through safe and effective exercises that can increase the strength of your neck muscles that may have been weakened due to injury or a medical condition. Strong neck muscles can also provide the support needed to correct poor posture that may be contributing to your pain. Your therapist will also walk you through stretching exercises that will increase your neck’s flexibility and range of motion.
  1. Manual therapy — Sometimes the best way to treat your pain is with hands-on methods. Manual therapy involves a physical therapist using their hands to release the tension in your soft tissue that’s causing your pain. They may use techniques like soft tissue mobilization to break up the scar tissue by applying pressure to the area. They can also use joint mobilization to find the restrictive tissue surrounding your neck joints.

Back in Motion can provide treatment for your cervicogenic headaches

Headaches of any kind can interfere with your quality of life because they make you feel like your brain can’t function properly to complete your daily tasks. If you’re living with cervicogenic headaches, it’s time to explore your treatment options. That’s where we come in. 

At Back in Motion, we can provide you with a treatment plan consisting of therapeutic exercises and manual therapy to alleviate your cervicogenic headaches. We’ll make sure that we focus on your neck and spinal issues to help reduce your pain and increase your mobility.
If you’re ready to start exploring cervicogenic headache treatment, be sure to contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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