Have you ever heard of cervicogenic headache, also known as a neck headache or neck migraine? If you frequently struggle with migraine attacks, chances are, you might have come across neck headaches while reading about remedies like upper cervical care.
According to reports, about 24 percent of headaches are cervicogenic. It can result from health problems like osteoarthritis or sometimes a neck misalignment.
If you suspect having a cervicogenic headache or if you’re curious about how it transpires, our discussion below can help you. First, let’s take a deep dive into how a neck headache feels and what you can do about it.
What Can Trigger a Neck Headache?
Unknown to many, the neck performs a vital function–protecting the brainstem, the nervous system’s information highway. Unfortunately, when you suffer from a neck trauma or maintain poor standing or lifting posture, the upper cervical neck bones can potentially shift by a few millimeters.
Neck headaches can also potentially develop due to long hours spent sitting down. Many individuals who work from home can relate to this frustrating and sometimes worrying condition.
Other factors such as pre-existing health problems are contributors to cervical subluxation. A few examples of these include:
- Current or previous infection
- Bone overgrowth
- Disc herniation
Often, a cervical subluxation triggers a plethora of problems, including sending of incorrect signals to the brain. Moreover, the compression or irritation of your brainstem can affect certain functions that could lead to the onset of a neck migraine and other equally frustrating health issues.
How a Neck Headache Feels Like
A cervicogenic headache often feels like a typical migraine attack. However, besides causing pulsating head pain, it triggers additional symptoms like facial pain, neck muscle spasms, head pain while sneezing or coughing, and pain when you roll your eyes.
Some patients who have a neck migraine also note additional symptoms like:
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to lights or noise
- Upset stomach
- Pain when moving the head or neck
If you have any of these symptoms and don’t have an official diagnosis yet, we suggest setting an appointment with a healthcare provider. Essentially, your doctor, neurologist, or upper cervical care practitioner may tell if you have a cervicogenic headache by pressing on specific parts of your neck or the base of your head.
Sometimes, doctors ask their patients to tilt their heads at specific angles to determine if this can trigger an attack. The sooner you get diagnosed with a neck headache or migraine, the better and faster you can cope.
Proven and Practical Ways to Relieve a Headache
A sudden headache in the middle of a busy day can cause quite a distraction. It could ruin your routine and ruin your mood. Your situation can also get worse if your neck migraines happen often.
Thankfully, there are several available remedies used to manage neck pain and headache. Besides upper cervical care, here are other effective and practical options that you can try:
- Mind your posture when you sit or stand – Your head weighs roughly 10 to 12 pounds, so if you don’t mind how you walk, sit or stand, it could cause gradual neck bone shifting.
- Check the height of your pillow – Choose a pillow that best suits your sleeping position to ensure that your neck and head get enough support while you lie down.
- Avoid putting your phone between your shoulder and neck during a call – It will only lead to neck strain, which can trigger worse cervicogenic headaches.
- Engage in mild physical activities to loosen stiff muscles – Sedentary lifestyle often leads to increased pain because the muscles and joints become stiff. You also miss the chance to release your body’s natural pain relievers if you opt to stay inactive.
- Apply firm pressure on painful parts of your neck and head – Slow and gentle massage on the painful areas on your neck might come in handy in relieving your symptoms.
- Consider acupuncture, massage therapy, or physical therapy – These natural and holistic options for relieving neck headaches have worked on countless individuals. You can typically get these options in wellness centers, spas, and natural medicine clinics.
- Take medication to relieve the pain and reduce inflammation – If you need quick and short-term relief from your neck headache, you can take a pain reliever or NSAID. Be sure to take the correct dosage and avoid taking excess amounts.
You might also find it helpful to keep track of your neck migraines and check for the usual triggers such as bright lights, stress, alcohol, and sodium-rich food products.
Resolving Your Neck Headaches with Upper Cervical Care
Countless patients turn to upper cervical care to manage their neck migraine symptoms. After all, upper cervical chiropractic aims to resolve the most likely cause of your terrifying situation – misaligned neck bones. Guided by the findings from the initial physical examination and digital imaging tests, your upper cervical doctor slowly adjusts the affected bones.
It’s a precise and gentle process that aims to provide C1 and C2 adjustments that can hold for years. Then, with your neck bones gradually shifting back to their original alignment, you can successfully reduce the pressure on the nerves and brainstem. This also allows you to fix signal transmission problems that may be contributing to your pain.
Find an upper cervical chiropractic practitioner near you and schedule a consultation. This way, you can assess the degree of misalignment of your neck bones and start receiving adjustments to correct the problem.