When you experience chronic, intense headache pain, it might not be a migraine. Another type of headache, a cervicogenic headache, can be just as painful and disruptive to your life. At Advanced Pain Management Specialists, in Baytown, Texas, Jerome Carter, MD, specializes in pain-relieving options for debilitating headache pain. Find out what treatment options are right for you by calling the office or by booking a consultation online today.

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What is a cervicogenic headache?

A cervicogenic headache is a type of referred pain. While you may feel like you have pain in your head, the pain is actually occurring in another area of your body, namely the cervical spine, or neck region.

This type of pain is typically due to an injury, illness or disorder of the spine. Issues with soft tissues, vertebrae, or discs can cause intense headache pain, similar to a migraine. In fact, without a proper diagnosis, cervicogenic headaches are often difficult to distinguish from a migraine because of the similarity of symptoms.

While a migraine relates to brain dysfunction, a cervicogenic headache results from problems in your neck.

What causes a cervicogenic headache?

Conditions that affect your cervical spine can trigger cervicogenic headache pain. These conditions include:

  • Injury
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bulging disc

You may be at increased risk for developing this type of headache if you have poor posture or work in an environment where you must stand or sit for long periods of time. In some cases, you may develop a cervicogenic headache after falling asleep with your head and neck in an awkward position.

What are the symptoms of a cervicogenic headache?

Common symptoms of a cervicogenic headache include intense, throbbing pain, usually on one side of your head. You may also experience symptoms like:

  • Stiff neck
  • Eye pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity

Your pain may worsen with sudden movements, like sneezing or coughing. You may also experience nausea or vomiting due to the intense pain.

What treatments are available for cervicogenic headaches?

Initially, Dr. Carter may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Heat and ice therapy may also help you feel more comfortable.

If head pain turns debilitating, Dr. Carter may suggest a nerve block, which delivers anesthetic and anti-inflammatory medications directly to the injured part of your cervical spine. This type of treatment can relieve the pressure on your nerves that triggers headache pain.

Lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for recurrent cervicogenic headache pain. It’s important to practice good posture and to get plenty of physical activity each day. If you work in a job that requires sitting or standing for long periods of time, take frequent breaks where you stretch your neck and back muscles.

To learn more about your treatment options for cervicogenic headaches, call the office nearest you or book a consultation online today.