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Cervicogenic Headache Physiotherapy Treatment

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What Is a Cervicogenic Headache?

Headaches happen for lots of reasons. It can be hard to know what kind you have and what’s causing it. But if it’s related to a problem in your neck, there’s a good chance it’s a cervicogenic headache.

Cervicogenic Headache Symptoms

A cervicogenic headache presents as a steady, non-throbbing pain at the back and base of the skull, sometimes extending downward into the neck and between the shoulder blades. Pain may be felt behind the brow and forehead, even though the problem originates from the cervical spine.

Pain usually begins after a sudden neck movement, such as a sneeze. Along with head and/or neck pain, symptoms may include:
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Mobility difficulties

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Treatment for Cervicogenic Headaches

Pharmacologic management of a cervicogenic headache usually starts with simple analgesics, such as NSAIDs, aspirin, and acetaminophen; the response varies from patient to patient. Combination products (eg, hydrocodone/acetaminophen and butalbital/acetaminophen/caffeine) often are prescribed but cannot be recommended, given the potential for residual and rebound effects. If all other treatment fails, judicious use of an opioid can be tried, using a sustained-release medication on an around-the-clock basis for persistent headaches to avoid a rebound effect. Invasive procedures include trigger point injections, greater or lesser occipital nerve blocks, facet joint blocks, segmental nerve root blocks, and diskography; spinal manipulation; and behavioral approaches.