Chronic neck pain and headache
Chronic neck pain and headache can both be placed under a common household name known as Cervicogenic Headache.
A Cervicogenic headache is a type of pain that is first begins in the neck, but the pain is felt in the head. Cervicogenic headaches are categorized as secondary headaches. They are mostly caused by underlying conditions in the body, such as injuries to the neck, bodily infections etc.
The pain that is caused by Cervicogenic Headaches always begin in the neck and back of the head before radiating towards the front of the head. Although, people tend to confuse Cervicogenic headache with tension headaches and migraine because of their similarities; they both cause neck pain. But Cervicogenic headache are different from the other types of headaches in that, it is more chronic and the degree or intensity of the pain produced is grave.
What are the symptoms of chronic neck pain and headache (Cervicogenic Headache)?
People who suffer from Cervicogenic headaches experience a headache alongside chronic neck pain and stiffness. In addition, certain movements made by the neck can trigger Cervicogenic Headaches.
In very known cases, Cervicogenic Headaches always begin on one side of the head, starting from the back of the head, then the neck and radiates towards the front.
Other symptoms of a Cervicogenic Headache include;
- Pain is always felt around the eyes
- Sensitivity to light and noise is on the increase as the sufferer is repelled by it
- Some neck movements would always trigger pain in the head
- There is constant pain (chronic) and stiffness of the neck area
- The neck begins to have limited mobility; the arrange of motion is reduced.
- Presence of pain on one side of the face or the head
- Nausea or vomiting is present
- Sight begins to get blurry.
What Causes the Rise of Cervicogenic Headaches?
This condition is caused by structural problems arising from the neck and can also be as a result of problems with the vertebrae at the top of the spine which is called the cervical vertebrae, specifically the C2-C3 vertebrae.
Most sufferers of this condition are into vocations like manual laboring, driving, etc. they have to always strain their necks as a result of the kind of jobs they do.
Injuries to the neck for example, whiplash etc. can also bring about this chronic condition.
Other medical conditions that causes Cervicogenic Headaches includes;
- Fracture affecting either the neck or spine
- Arthritis of the upper spine
- Whiplash or known form of injury that affects the neck
If this condition is left untreated, the sufferer becomes devitalized. Most people would go ahead to experience chronic, or worse, recurring headaches. Immediate medical assistance is therefore required, so the patient should endeavor to contact his or her healthcare provider for help.
How Is This Medical Condition Treated?
The sole aim of the treatment is to remove the cause of the pain, and it varies with persons. And the severity of the symptoms is also a factor to consider when seeking for medical intervention.
However, people can relieve their painful symptoms at home, or with the help of other combinations such as Therapeutic, Surgical and Medicinal Regimens.
Over-the-counter drugs may be prescribed by the healthcare provider to alleviate the pains. The medications that are used to combat this medical condition are;
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), such as ibuprofen and aspirin
- Muscle relaxants are also used
- Antiseizure medications
- Antidepressant drugs
Physical therapy is always effective in treating Cervicogenic Headaches, since it is a structural problem in the neck that elicits the condition.
Sufferers of this condition can work with a physiotherapist to develop specialized treatment plans. At the first meeting, the physiotherapist in charge may want to ask for previous medical history to ascertain the likely cause of the ailment. After which, other physical routine exercises can be carried out to stimulate the soft tissues and move the joints around to alleviate the painful symptoms.
Other therapeutic procedures include;
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
- Nerve blocks
At Southlake Pain Center, the following treatment regimens are used for Cervicogenic Headache;
- Atlanto-Axial (AA) Joint Injection
- Atlanto-Occipital Joint Injection
- Cervical Facet Injection
- Cervical Medial Branch Block
- Cervical Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
Asides trying other known therapies and medication, there good home remedies that can be used for the treatment of Cervicogenic Headache. A form of physical therapy called Sustained Natural Apophyseal Glide (SNAG) can be performed; it works by using a towel to manipulate the areas of the neck that are causing the painful symptoms.