16 Aug More Than a Pain in the Neck
Neck pain occurs for numerous reasons and is typically resolved with over-the-counter remedies and simple lifestyle changes. But there is a type of headache that is not discussed as commonly as migraines or tension headaches and occurs as a result of cervicalgia. Cervicalgia is also called neck pain. The type of headache associated with it is called a cervicogenic headache. The pain is perceived to occur in the head, but the actual source of that pain is in the neck.
The cause of a cervicogenic headache is due to a disorder of the cervical spine, its bone disc or soft tissue material. However, the condition does not simply apply to a headache with neck pain. Many headache disorders, such as migraines and tension-type headaches can include neck pain. Cervicogenic headaches are due to a disorder or lesion within the cervical spine or soft tissues in the neck. These disorders include tumors, fractures, infections, pinched nerves and rheumatoid arthritis of the upper cervical spine.
A tension-type headache includes dull, aching head pain or tightness and pressure across the forehead. A migraine includes symptoms such as throbbing in one particular area with varying intensity. The difference with a cervicogenic headache, when compared to tension or migraine type headaches, are more likely as follows:
- The pain typically occurs on only one side.
- The pain may radiate from the neck or back of the head, up to the front of the head or behind the eye.
- The headache may or may not include neck pain.
In addition, those who experience cervicogenic headache often find they have difficulty moving their neck, called reduced range of motion. The headache also worsens with certain neck movements or when pressure is applied to particular areas of their neck.
Specific and consistent neck positions can also aggravate it. As a result, people who work in specialized fields or participate in certain sports, such as weight lifting, carpentry, hair styling, and truck or tractor driving may be more prone to this type of headache. Patients who sustain a whiplash or a concussion-type of injury with resulting neck pain also sometimes develop cervicogenic headaches.
Stand Up Straight!
Posture plays an important role in whether or not someone experiences these headaches. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, or even fibromyalgia are more prone to postural problems, cervicalgia, headaches, and tension in the neck. It is essential to achieve and maintain good posture and carry out specific stretches and exercises for the neck.
Your physician can certainly help with treatment options to relieve the pain. After a thorough assessment of the cervical spine, your doctor may provide a nerve block to alleviate pain. The nerve block can serve a dual purpose. If the numbing medication resolves the headaches, it can also confirm the complicated diagnosis of cervicogenic headache.
In addition to the nerve block, a physician may suggest other medications with physical therapy and exercise for further relief and a pain-free outcome for the future.