What is Cervicogenic Headache? How Do You Treat It?
What is cervicogenic headache(CH)? Chiropractor Near Me
In 2016, World Health Organization mentioned that “Half to three-quarters of adults aged 18–65 years in the world have had a headache in the last year.” Especially in today’s technological advancement and fast-paced society， more and more people suffer from headaches.
However, headaches do not necessarily derive from any structures inside the skull. Cervical vertebrae problems can also cause headaches. This type of headache is called cervicogenic headache (CH).
Cervicogenic headache is caused by the organic or functional lesions of cervical or neck soft tissues, with chronic and unilateral headaches associated with neck pain as the main manifestations. In spite of the similarities between migraine and CH, CH is a secondary headache that originates from the upper cervical spine and refers pain to in the head.
If you constantly stress your neck due to anterior head carriage which is a head position of shifting forward, you may feel pain in the back of your skull and radiate to the same side of the forehead, around the eye, temple and ear. The pain can be exacerbated with neck movements.
Patients with mild symptoms may be self-resolving with home exercises and stretches, but severe cases may last for several hours or even days. CH mostly occurs between 20 and 60 years old. Young kids can be affected by CH and the one with CH was as young as 6 years old.
This condition affects both males and females around the same ratio but is slightly more common in women. In recent years, there has been an increasing trend of CH among high school students, which may be related to excessive study pressure and prolonged use of smartphones.
How to cervicogenic headache? Chiropractor Near Me
The key to the prevention of CH relies on self-management. When using a computer, you can always adjust the angle and height of the screen at your eye levels so that you do not look down or up for too long to stress your neck. Likewise, you should hold your phone at a better angle in order to not compromise your cervical spine. Moreover, jerking your head may lead to neck muscle strain or neck pain.
After prolonged sitting for work and study, stretching your neck and upper back muscles, and gently rotating your head can prevent neck pain and headaches. Chin tuck is an exercise to strengthen deep neck flexors to correct the head position at the same time to stretch the suboccipital muscles. Respectively tilting and rotating your head to the left then to the right repeats for 10 times. This exercise that can prevent neck stiffness should perform slowly and gently.
How to treat cervicogenic headache? Chiropractor Near Me
The treatment of CH includes drug therapy, physical therapy, nerve block therapy and invasive intervention. For patients with mild symptoms, rolled towels or round pillows can be used to restore the normal physiological curvature of the cervical spine for pain relief. If it does not improve the symptoms, you should consult health care professionals and consider the treatment as follows:
CH is thought to involve the upper cervical spine (C1-C3) which refers pain to the corresponding structures. Manual therapy applies high velocity low amplitude technique to correct spinal subluxation to decompress the affected spinal nerves. Chiropractic adjustment can also release the tension of neck muscles and improve the cervical range of motion.
Acupuncture therapy is a traditional treatment method in Chinese medicine. According to the theory of meridians and acupoints, specific acupoints are selected to treat CH. The acupoints at the junction of the patient’s neck were selected to treat CH by electroacupuncture. The headache was treated by relieving muscle spasms, releasing adhesion, promoting blood circulation and relieving pain.
Acupotomy therapy has been a new treatment method emerging in recent years. According to the theory of soft tissue pathogenesis and anatomical theory, acupotomy is applied to the local area of the patient’s muscle and ligament to relieve the headache symptoms by reducing the local tension and improving the local vascular and nerve compression of the lesion.
4、Local injection therapy
Occipital nerve blockade is used to treat cervical headaches. Nerve block therapy may improve the symptoms of CH with no recurrence for approximately 6 months.
The commonly used treatment drugs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers and so on. Traditional Chinese medicine treatment mostly uses blood-activating medicine treatment to relax the head and neck.
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