A cervicogenic headache is a headache that develops from structural abnormalities of the head, neck or spine. A cervicogenic headache may develop as a result of restricted blood flow through the neck and irritation to nerves along the path from the spinal cord to the brain. These abnormalities may be caused by head or neck injuries, infections, tumors or rheumatoid arthritis of the upper cervical spine. Similar to a migraine, this condition can vary in severity and is more common in women than men.
Symptoms of Cervicogenic Headache
Symptoms of a cervicogenic headache may include severe pain at the base of the skull, in the face, neck, and upper back. In addition, throbbing, nausea, dizziness and sensitivity to light are often experienced. Symptoms usually occur on a daily basis and can interfere with a person’s everyday life.
Treatment of Cervicogenic Headache
Treatment for a cervicogenic headache often involves a combination of approaches. Simple analgesics such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to manage pain. Stronger pain medication may also be prescribed to be taken orally or as an injection. Alternative treatments such as chiropractic adjustments, massage and acupuncture are often effective in relieving pain and reducing the frequency of flare-ups for this type of headache. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to repair nerve damage.