What is a Cervicogenic Headache?

3 min read
What is a Cervicogenic Headache?

There are many different types of headaches, but one you may be especially familiar with is a cervicogenic headache. 

Even if you’ve never heard of a cervicogenic headache or CGH before, you’re likely familiar with its steady dull ache. Cervicogenic headaches usually occur on one side of the neck, head, or face. They often begin as a dull ache in the neck, radiating upward along the back of the head, almost always on one side. 

Usually, the pain spreads to the forehead, temple, and area around the eyes and ears. Often, CGH is caused by an underlying disc, joint, muscle, or nerve disorder in the neck. Also, CGH is caused by trauma or by an underlying medical condition.

Cervicogenic Headache Symptoms

CGH is known as a secondary headache. This is because it occurs because of an underlying physical or neurological condition. In many cases, CGH headaches occur in contrast with a primary headache like a migraine. CGH can be difficult to diagnose since its symptoms are similar to primary headaches.

Signs to Watch Out For

Cervicogenic headache symptoms are almost always side-locked. This means they only occur typically on one side of the head or neck. These symptoms usually include dull, or moderate to severe pain.

The pain is normally described as a dull and non-throbbing sensation focused on one side of the head or neck. This can lead to reduced flexibility of the neck, leading to stiffness and reduced range of motion.

Where Does a CGH Headache Occur?

The pain will manifest in multiple areas, often starting around the back of the head. It can extend to the front following the scalp, forehead, and areas around the eye, temple, and ear. In some instances, patients experience blurred vision in one eye and pain in a single shoulder, arm, or shoulder blade.

Some people experience CGH headaches without neck pain. In other instances, the joints may not be in pain, but will be tender to the touch. These all point to neck issues that give rise to headaches. Additionally, the frequency and duration of the pain may vary from episode to episode.

Migraine-Like Symptoms

Less frequently, CGH headaches lead to migraine-like symptoms like nausea, increased sensitivity to light and sound, and dizziness. Similar to blurred vision, the eye of the affected side may swell in size. There may be difficulty swallowing, or the pain may spread to both sides of the neck or head.

Due to the overlap in symptoms, it can be common to mistake CGH for migraines. Also, CGH can occur independently and concurrently with migraines.

Cervicogenic Headache Exercises

What cervicogenic headache exercises can patients practice to reduce symptoms and pain? Speak with your doctor to create an individually-tailored plan that best suits your personal needs. Your doctor may require you to take medication before treatment if pain or flexibility is an issue. Also, apply a heating pad to loosen the neck muscles prior to stretching. Similarly, apply a cold pack to reduce inflammation afterward.

If neck exercises feel painful, they should be modified or discontinued. Moreover, if there are any questions, ask your doctor or other medical professionals for more in-depth advice.

Get Cervicogenic Headache Treatment from BASS Medical 

Struggling with headaches or chronic migraine can be overwhelming on good days. Cervicogenic headaches, however, can feel debilitating. Receiving the right cervicogenic headache treatment can make all the difference.

BASS Medical is home to a team of dedicated staff and board-certified specialists. We offer resources and comprehensive treatment plans, and can treat a range of conditions. Don’t suffer from CGH headaches alone, get real, and long-lasting relief by scheduling your appointment today.