Cervicogenic headache was first introduced by Sjaastad et al. in 1983.
This headache is also known as the controversial headache.
It is a new medical term described as a headache that originates from structures and tissues in the neck or cervical spine region.
Cervicogenic headache was overlooked or ignored by many doctors as the diagnosis of this headache cannot be done.
It is also described as a non-muscular and unilateral headache that appears in the cervical spine or neck.
The pain is caused due to the pain fiber structures necks, which are attached to the cervical spine with the cervical muscles and their attachments, various joints and structures, vertebral arteries, and cervical nerve roots.
The continuous pain that occurs to the head from the neck is due to the convergence of the upper cervical spinal cords sensory fiber and the nerves descending tract.
These nerves pass the pain from the neck muscles to the head. In this way, the person feels the cervicogenic headache.
Features of Cervicogenic Headache
Some indication of abnormality in the cervical spine like impaired cervical motion, neck pain, aggravation of the headache by neck movements or a history of neck trauma, etc
Pain other than lancinating pain located in the frontal, occipital, orbital or temporal regions of the head
The major criteria for the diagnosis of cervicogenic headache are:-
- Symptoms and signs of neck involvement
- Reduced range of motion in the cervical spine
- Unilateral head pain without side-shift
- Ipsilateral neck, arm, and shoulder pain
Provocation of attacks:-
Pain which is similar in character and distribution to the continuous, occurring pain due to external pressure
Pain triggered by sustained awkward head positioning and neck movements
Risk Factors of Cervicogenic Headache
- Nervous tension
- Birth Control Pill
- Smoking and alcohol
- Menstrual cycle and hormonal changes
- Disorders of the sinuses
- Abnormal postures
Proper treatment is essential for the cervicogenic headache.
Objective and subjective assessments help the therapist examine the headache that the person is experiencing that originates from the cervical spine.
The following treatments can be taken to reduce the cervicogenic headache, and they are:-
- Postural assessment and correction
- Relaxation therapy
- Electrotherapy modalities such as laser therapy, ultrasound, etc
- Neurologists and Dietitians are also very helpful in the treatment.
Self-help plays a vital role in the prevention and treatment of cervicogenic headache.
Management of these headaches can be very complicated.
Besides all these treatments, conventional physiotherapy and oral medical therapy, diagnostic blocks, trigger point injections, and multiple procedures can also help this treatment.