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Help for cervicogenic headaches

By Staff | Jul 18, 2019

Cervicogenic headache is a type of headache that originates from the cervical spine (neck.) These headaches are often accompanied by neck pain and stiffness; reduced range of motion in the neck; pain on one side of the face, head or around the eyes; pain radiating down the shoulders or arms; sensitivity to light and noise; nausea; and blurred vision.

Cervicogenic headaches can start on one side of the head or they can originate at the back of the head and radiate to the front.

While cervicogenic headaches can be triggered by a number of factors, including neck muscle tension, computer use, physical labor or poor posture, the most common cause of cervicogenic headaches is due to neck injury.

Common sources of neck injury include blows to the head, whiplash and/or concussion sustained as a result of motor vehicle accidents, falls and through high-impact sports such as football, surfing, soccer, gymnastics and horseback riding. Any of the above incidences of trauma may cause ligaments supporting the head and neck to be sprained (stretched), which forces the skull and upper cervical vertebrae out of their normal biomechanical position.

It is thought that the injury to the alignment of the skull and upper cervical bones alters nerve and blood flow in the brainstem, leading to cervicogenic headaches. Unless the neck injury is addressed, the headaches persist.

Fortunately, a rare chiropractic technique that focuses upon neck injuries – known as upper cervical care – has shown promise for cervicogenic headache patients. In order to determine whether a headache patient may benefit from care, the upper cervical chiropractor will perform two diagnostic tests: thermal imaging and digital X-rays of the spine. These tests accurately assess the alignment of an individual’s head and neck. If an upper cervical misalignment is diagnosed, the patient’s injured neck is corrected by administering a precise adjustment by hand on a specially-designed knee chest table. Many cervicogenic headache patients notice improvement in symptoms with just a few treatments.

With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has successfully treated hundreds of patients with chronic headaches, including cervicogenic, cluster, migraine and tension. Her published headache research is available on her website, www.erinelster.com.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or erin@erinelster.com.