Have you have dealt with a headache? Ever been told you have a migraine headache? If you have, you know just how debilitating they can be. One thing many people are surprised to find out is that headaches are often misdiagnosed. Because of this, in the clinic we often see people who have been suffering from chronic headaches for years and have tried a host of medications, treatments, and sometimes even surgeries all whole getting little to no relief. What is the cause of this?
A lot of people have been diagnosed with “migraine headaches” or “tension headaches” when in reality they are dealing with the most commonly misdiagnosed headache type: cervicogenic.
What Makes A Cervicogenic Headache Different?
To put it simply, a cervicogenic headache means a headache that is originating from your neck (cervical spine). The headache you feel is referred pain, which means the pain you are feeling is in an area different from the source. Usually, the problem is in the upper part of the neck joints/muscles which leads to tightness and stiffness and eventually refers pain into the head.
How To Properly Identify Cervicogenic Headaches?
- Cervicogenic headaches usually occur on one side of the head, neck, and face.
- The pain starts in the back of the head or upper part of the neck (around the base of the skull) and radiates to the front and around the eye. This is often referred to as the “ram’s horn” pattern because of the location of the symptoms.
- Neck pain and tightness occur at the same time as the headache.
- The headache is usually brought on by strange neck movements or prolonged static postures.
- This can be anything from sitting still at your computer or phone for too long, staying up late studying for an exam, or lifting overhead with your neck in an awkward position.
How To Help Cervicogenic Headaches?
Freeing up the motion in your upper neck! Gently getting the joint moving is a great place to start; once you get the area moving more it will relieve some of the tension and the headache symptoms.
Cervical SNAGs are a great way to start:
You know those muscles you’re constantly feeling like need a massage? That’s right, the upper traps hold a lot of tension. Grab a lacrosse ball or tennis ball and use it to self-massage your upper trap muscles.
Getting your upper back limbered up is always a huge success. Mobilizing the upper part of your thoracic spine will help to take tension off of your neck muscles. Using a foam roller for thoracic extensions is a great choice to get some motion into this area.
People often ask “what’s the best posture” and the true answer is – your best posture is your next posture; there is no such thing as perfect posture. Any position will start to cause discomfort if you stay in it for too long, we recommend changing position often, don’t find yourself staying in one static position for more than 30 minutes! Every little bit of movement helps!
See a physical therapist – we recommend seeing a physical therapist who specializes in headaches and neck pain. Once properly diagnosed, the treatment will reduce your symptoms rapidly and dramatically!
For more information or if you want to schedule an evaluation, email email@example.com or CLICK HERE to schedule online! Dr. Zac Morgan of Onward Physical Therapy specializes in helping individuals suffering from chronic headaches regain their freedom!