Headaches and Migraines
There are many different types of headaches, however the most common ones are: Tension headache, Cervicogenic headache, Cluster headache and Migraine.
We will only talk about Cervicogenic headache since other types of headaches heave been extensively described in the literature and are more familiar to the general public. Even though, cervical component is found in most types of headaches, Cervicogenic headache is the only one that could be managed by a chiropractor or a physical therapist without the use of drugs. Cervicogenic headache is second most common after Tension headache and the most common headache in children and adolescents. Unfortunately the majority of cases are missed or mismanaged due to general lack of functional diagnostic skills by primary care physicians. This leads to unnecessary suffering and overuse of pain medications and degeneration of cervical spine. Cervicogenic headache is a pain arising from dysfunction of the cervical spine. This dysfunction involves: soft tissue and muscle hypertonicity in the neck muscles, faulty posture in the thoracic and cervical spine, faulty breathing patterns, TMJ dysfunction, abnormal motor control in the locomotor apparatus all of which result in irritation of upper cervical joints. Cervicogenic pain syndrome is also known as: vertebrogenic headache, cranio-cervical syndrome. It has a direct relationship with mandibulo-cranial syndrome AKA TMJ pain syndrome. See TMJ section.
Features of Cervicogenic headache:
- One-sided pain without a shift to another area
- Reduced range of motion of the neck
- Provocation of the pain by neck movement, sub occipital pressure and feeling of patient that the head or neck is in awkward position
- Associated neck and shoulder pain
- Pain usually radiates to front of the head, especially to the fore head and behind the eyes
- Pain is of mild or moderate intensity
- Pain is always fluctuating
- Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, blurring of the eyes, and photophobia are rarely present and if present are usually mild.
The best treatment approach is a functional one. This approach addresses dysfunction at its roots. Let alone without treatment Cervicogenic dysfunction will eventually lead to: spinal degeneration, difficulty chewing or swallowing, difficulty breathing and will affect the rest of the spine through alteration of posture. All this can be prevented if proper and timely diagnosis is established and functional treatment is undertaken.