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Causes & Treatment for a Cervicogenic Headache

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What is Cervicogenic Headache and Why Does It Occur?

A Cervicogenic headache a frustrating complaint that is far too common.  What is it? It is defined as a one sided headache that originates in the cervical spine. In other words, this type of headache stems from the neck and upper back spinal region. Interestingly it primarily affects mostly women. this may be due that females generally have weaker neck muscles than male, as a result greater strain is placed on the female neck, this combined with improper posture, easily leads to cervicogenic pain. The resulting headache is sensed as a tight band about the forehead and eyes, because the nerves joining the skull and the cervix or neck are referred to the forehead. Therefore, any pressure or compression of the nerves is channeled to the forehead, resulting in headache.

Cervicogenic headache and pain can also result from whip lash or head injury, too much tension in the spine and neck, intervertebral disc disease, and progressive facet joint arthritis.

Patterns of headache pertaining to the muscular trigger points in the neck, shoulder blade or peri-scapular region, disc and joint levels in the upper spine, have been documented as related areas of cervicogenic headache. Headaches commonly brushed aside as a migraine, can in reality be related to the area at the base of the skull. This area, called the sub occipital region as it is located below the occipital part of the head, has joints which connect the top two or three levels of the cervical spine to the base of the skull. Since this area handles more than 50 percent of the total motion of the entire neck and head region, small, insignificant ‘details’ like bad posture and fatigue can take a disproportionate toll on the area, which in turn results in pain and cervicogenic headache.

Accurate diagnosis is important if treatment for cervicogenic headache is to be effective. However, treatment commonly centers around physical therapy provided by a qualified and well-trained spinal physician. Muscle relaxation and posture techniques constitute the essence of such therapy, with a surgical operation being the last alternative when the damage is too extensive. Other alternatives include pain management, medication, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, as well as massage, are also good choices for the management of chronic pain and cervicogenic headache.

Currently, the most reliable test for cluster headaches is the Occipital Nerve Block. This test is often recommended by medical practitioners working in this field because it not only diagnoses the complain but it also helps treat the problem. Those who have undergone this treatment/test often report feeling remarkably quick relief, some even with in just a seconds of starting the treatment. Accompanying treatment may include an exercise program that involves muscle relaxation techniques

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