Some people suffer from headaches far more frequently than others. There is often a source from where it spreads to the rest of the head, and while people may not be aware of it, the neck could be a problematic area, which could give rise to splitting pain.
As such, more importance needs to be given to cervicogenic headaches, which are pains arising from the neck and going all the way up to the head, mostly on one side. They are not to be confused with migraine or other headaches, says Dr Sai Krishna B Naidu, HOD, trauma and orthopedics, bone and joint surgery, Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road Bengaluru.
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According to Dr Naidu, most of the time, the cause of such headaches is unknown. “But, problems arising from the neck, such as whiplash injuries, issues arising from cervical vertebrae, arthritis, long hours of working on the laptop with incorrect posture, etc., could be contributing factors for cervicogenic neck pain,” he states.
Certain professionals, whose job involves neck-bending like hairstylists, IT professionals, surgeons etc., are susceptible, he adds.
What are the symptoms?
The doctor explains that symptoms seen in most people include the sudden movement of the neck that causes head and neck pain, nausea, vomiting, pain around the eyes, etc.
Other signs may include:
– Pain on one side of head and neck, radiating up and down
– Constant pain that doesn’t throb
– Head pain when you cough, sneeze, or do deep-breathing
– Stiff neck causing inability to move freely
– Pain localised to one area either in the front, back of the head or around the eye
Even though cervicogenic headaches and migraine are different, some of the symptoms can be similar. For example, you may:
– Feel nausea and vomiting sensation
– Have pain in your arm or shoulder
– Feel nausea/vomiting on bright light exposure and loud noise
– Have blurring of vision
Can these headaches be prevented?
“Working on postural correction, wearing seat belts even if in the rear seat, neck muscle strengthening and exercises are all helpful in preventing cervicogenic headaches,” the expert advises.
He adds that diagnosing a cervicogenic headache is done by a specialist and most of the time, it is by exclusion criteria. Scans and other tests could essentially come out as normal.
Diagnosis is “followed by physical therapy/physiotherapy”. “Other alternatives such as TENS machines, neck injections, etc., help. Home remedies such as SNAG (sustained natural apophyseal glide) help in reducing pain. Medications such as Ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, etc., along with good sleep and relaxation techniques like yoga and hydrotherapy can help,” Dr Naidu says.
He, however, cautions that while stress cannot cause these headaches, it can amplify the existing condition, along with a lack of sleep, smoking and alcohol consumption.