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Is Your Headache Really A Neck Problem?

Headaches are terrible.

I’m always surprised when someone presents to the office fully believing that their headaches are normal. This clinical scenario typically occurs after someone has been suffering with them for years and years.

Maybe you or someone you know can relate to this? You get headaches so frequently that you forget what life is even like without them.

Headaches are common. But they aren’t normal.

In fact, they are a sign of an underlying problem.

One of the most common types of headaches is called a cervicogenic headache. That’s just fancy lingo for a headache that originates from a problem in your neck.

This image is of your neck (cervical spine) and upper back. It demonstrates the referral patterns from the different spinal joints in your neck. Spinal joints range from C1-7.

What’s a referral pattern?

It means that there’s a problem originating at a particular segment of your spine, but the symptoms are being felt elsewhere.

For example, restricted spinal motion at C2-3 can feel like a headache at the base of your skull. Or, inflammation surrounding C5-6 can feel like tight and tense shoulders.

As you can see, a neck problem can be felt in the head, neck, shoulders or even as far down as your shoulder blade.

Three of the most common clinical features I see when examining people suffering with cervicogenic headaches are:

  1. A loss of the normal c-shaped curve in their neck
  2. A reduction in normal range of motion in the neck
  3. Shifted, restricted and inflamed spinal segments

If you want to determine whether your headaches are cervicogenic in nature, please bring it up with me at your next scheduled appointment if you haven’t already.

And if you aren’t already a patient, I encourage you to schedule a complementary consultation with me. Your consultation isn’t a commitment, simply a conversation. If I feel an Neurostructural Examination is warranted, I’ll recommend one and you can decide if you want to move ahead with it.