Headache is a very common symptom in neck pain patients. And Cervicogenic headache is a secondary type of headache which means it does not directly originate from your head but from your neck.
Cervicogenic headache is caused by a disorder involving the cervical spine and its bony disc and or soft tissue elements such as muscles, fascia, or nerves by some injury or dysfunction at the neck. The injury could be from having a fall or a car/bike accident or any type of whiplash injury.
It can cause pain to be referred from the neck to the head. Many patients with Cervicogenic headaches have never experienced any trauma like the given examples and in these cases, it is usually and more likely that the strain from adopting poor postures is the key contributor. Like the prolonged period with your neck forward, for example, sitting in a chair using the computer/laptop / mobile with poor posture. And in some occupations like a painter or if you have a hunched posture or rounded shoulders
There are some criteria to decide whether it is a Cervicogenic headache or not. The first is that headaches developed after the onset of the cervical disorder/lesion.
The second is that headache improves/resolves in parallel with the improvement/resolution of the cervical disorder/lesion.
The third is that there is a reduction in cervical ROM, neck stiffness, and movement/posture-dependent pain, worsened by provocative tests.
Fourth is that headache is abolished after diagnostic blockade of the cervical structure or its nerve supply.
The Cervicogenic headache is mild to moderate often unilateral meaning on one side of the head and it can usually start from the neck and then travel up and over into the head. Headache when you cough, sneeze or take a deep breath. And the patient with a Cervicogenic headache also experiences nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms include dizziness, tinnitus, difficulty concentrating, and also depression as well.
PHYSIOTHERAPY TREATMENT OF Cervicogenic headache INCLUDES
TENS will stimulate nerves and reduce pain.
High-intensity laser class 4 therapy.
Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM).
Spinal manipulation and mobilization.
Stretching of muscles such as SCM muscle, upper trapezius, levator, scalenes, suboccipital, and pectoralis major & minor.
The post-isometric relaxation technique is useful in reducing tightness and trigger point pain.
Therapeutic exercises such as dynamic cervical extension exercises, chin tuck exercises, prone I/Y/T/W exercises, shoulder shrugs, and upper back & cervical spine strengthening exercises with thera band.
Biofeedback therapy will train the mind and body to become aware of the physiological response of the body and help in pain reduction.