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Cervicogenic Headache

Updated on Jul 9, 2021 by Dr. Amr Hosny (Headache Specialist) of Advanced Headache Center

As the name implies, a cervicogenic headache is caused by an injury or illness in your cervical spine, which is the top of the spine in your neck. While they can be very painful, affecting one side of your head, the good news is that they’re usually easy to treat once the cause of the pain is determined. Cervicogenic headache treatment involves addressing the problem in your spine, whether through physical therapy, nerve block injections, or more direct treatment to heal or fix the issue. Dr. Amr Hosny of the Advanced Headache Center in Midtown Manhattan and northern New Jersey is the expert headache specialist to resolve your cervicogenic headache. Call today for an appointment.

What Is a Cervicogenic Headache?

A cervicogenic headache stems from the pain that originates in your neck. From there, it radiates towards the front of your head. A cervicogenic headache falls in the category of secondary headaches, which means it’s caused by another illness or physical issue, unlike primary headaches such as migraines.

Other headaches can cause neck pain or tension headaches, but a pain management specialist understands the different types of headaches and the need to correct your diagnosis. Cervicogenic headaches affect the quality of your life due to the debilitating pain and other symptoms. For this reason, you require a careful diagnosis before starting early and appropriate treatment.

At the Advanced Headache Center, with offices in Manhattan and Bergen County, New Jersey, Dr. Amr Hosny uses advanced diagnostics and migraine treatment techniques. A Harvard-trained headache specialist treats headaches and migraines with such modalities as occipital nerve blocks and Botox injections.

How Can I Tell if I Have a Cervicogenic Headache?

The pain and symptoms related to cervicogenic headaches, which are similar to other headaches, sometimes lead to misdiagnosis. To determine if you have this type of headache, you must go to a specialist like Dr. Hosny. Commonly, your symptoms include:

  • Pain on only one side of your head
  • Reduced range of motion in your neck
  • Limited ability to move your neck or head
  • Pain in your neck or shoulder
  • A headache that gets worse with any neck movement
  • Head pain when you cough, sneeze or take a deep breath
  • Pain that lasts for hours or days
  • Steady pain with no throbbing, unlike migraine pain
  • Some symptoms it shares with migraines such as vomiting, nausea, blurry vision, sensitivity to bright light, or loud noises

Your treatment starts with the correct diagnosis. To avoid a misdiagnosis and guarantee effective cervicogenic headache treatment, consult Dr. Hosny. He’s a board-certified headache specialist who relies on an integrative, multidisciplinary approach to headache treatment.

What Causes Cervicogenic Headaches?

While you feel the pain of a cervicogenic headache primarily in your head, its source is located elsewhere. The pain that reaches your head radiates there, which fools many people. But a trained specialist like Dr. Hosny understands that the pain actually comes from your cervical spine. So the source or sources of your head pain may involve your:

  • Neck muscles. Overuse or misuse of your neck muscles leads to muscle pain that can cause headaches.
  • The atlantooccipital joint. This is the connection at the base of your skull with the first cervical vertebrae. If this is the cause, it’s from arthritis, an injury, or a pulled muscle.
  • Cervical spinal nerves. Any irritation to your spinal nerves can lead to a cervicogenic headache.
  • Facet joints. Facet joints in the cervical spine allow movement while giving your spine the stability it needs. These joints are prone to injury, which can cause your headache.
  • Cervical intervertebral discs. These are shock absorbers between the vertebral bones of your spine. When they’re damaged or diseased, you feel pain and experience limited mobility.

Cervicogenic headaches occur due to an underlying medical condition or physical injury to one of the anatomical structures above. Most are in or around your cervical spine, so you may have a cervicogenic headache if it’s caused by:

  • A cervical spine disorder such as arthritis of the upper spine or degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis
  • A cervical lesion, tumor, or infection
  • An injury in the soft tissues of your neck, such as a whiplash injury
  • A physical injury to the cervical vertebrae or joints
  • A prolapsed disc in your neck
  • Poor posture, which works slowly over the years to degrade your cervical spine
  • A fall or sports injury
  • Sleeping in an awkward position

Dr. Hosny at the Advanced Headache Center has the latest medical equipment to diagnose your type of headache and identify the cause. Only then can he begin the most appropriate treatment for you.

What’s the Best Cervicogenic Headache Treatment?

After a thorough diagnosis, your doctor creates an individualized treatment plan for you. Dr. Hosny usually starts with the least invasive techniques first, depending on the severity of your condition. Cervicogenic headache treatment options include:

Severe cases may require minimally invasive surgical techniques. Still, most often, a cervicogenic headache, without other debilitating symptoms, indicates a milder issue that responds well to the cervicogenic headache treatments listed above. For an accurate diagnosis, the first step toward treatment, contact Dr. Hosny and his team at the Advanced Headache Center nearest you. They have eight offices between Midtown Manhattan and Paramus, NJ.

Dr. Amr Hosny has either authored or reviewed and approved this content. Advanced Headache Center 41 5th Avenue,
New York, NY 10003
(646) 419-3105