The main symptoms of a cervicogenic headache are a combination of one-sided pain, diffuse shoulder and/or arm pain on the same side.
Furthermore, those with cervicogenic headaches may also experience:
Cervicogenic headaches arise from the Atlanta-occipital region (base of the skull) and upper cervical vertebra (joints at the top of the back of the neck). The top 3 spinal nerves (C1, C2, and C3) and the trigeminal nerve (cranial nerve 5) join onto the spinal cord in the same location. So if you experience pain in the neck the brain can misinterpret this as pain over the skull (i.e. a headache). This is what we call referred pain, as the source of the pain is different from where the individual may feel their pain.
In essence, your neck joints can cause a headache or pain if they are not operating optimally. The common issues we see in the clinic are: - Altered motor control of the joints of the neck: either the neck muscles can be over- bracing or under-active. - Neck joints are locked into an abnormal position: e.g. locked facet joint or poor posture.
This can be treated successfully conservatively with Sports Chiropractic or Physiotherapy. Usually, treatment involves manual therapy techniques such as specific mobilisation involving C2/3 vertebrae, deep tissue work of associated musculature of the neck and upper shoulders, dry needling and a specific graded strengthening exercise program.