Cervicogenic headaches are characterized as head and neck pain originating from the cervical region, a type of secondary headache. This classification is due to the source of the headache being in the neck. Cervicogenic headaches may be from muscle pain and spasms of the neck muscles, cervical facet joints, or the occipital nerve, located at the base of the skull. Multiple studies have indicated that cervicogenic headaches may be under-diagnosed, with estimates of prevalence ranging from 2% up to 22%.
Any injury to the neck or cervical region of the spine can lead to cervicogenic headaches. This injury may be an acute, sudden injury resulting from an automobile accident, a sports-related injury, or a fall, or it may be the result of a long-term sustained injury caused by bad posture or degenerative changes with age.
Cervicogenic headaches rarely present auras or nausea that are commonly associated migraine headaches and the pain is not responsive to traditional migraine medications. However, cervicogenic headaches have been known to precipitate migraine headaches. Appropriate diagnosis of cervicogenic headaches is done by a thorough history and physical exam. Another way in which cervicogenic headaches can be readily diagnosed is if treatment of the neck is able to provide rapid relief from the headache.
The specific treatment for cervicogenic headaches varies by patient and by what is found to be the cause of the headaches. If the problem found in the neck is a result of musculature, then muscle-specific treatment options may provide relief. Such treatments include muscle relaxants, physical therapy including myofascial release, and/or trigger point injections into the muscle. For patients whose cervicogenic headaches are a result of damage to the cervical facet joints, there is often underlying inflammation contributing to pain generation. In this case, an interventional procedure known as a radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can block the pain signal being generated from the joints. To directly address the nerve triggering the cervicogenic headache, the occipital nerve, nerve blocks can be administered to inhibit the problematic signaling.
Appointments are made by calling 941.951.BONE (2663). Visit our website by clicking here for more information about Sarasota Orthopedic Associates.
Try our fun orthopedic quiz …
- What is the meaning of the word orthopedic?
- How many bones in the adult human body?
- In what part of the body are most of our bones located?
- What does PRP stand for, and what is it?
- Where is the largest bone in the human body?
- What is Radiofrequency Ablation?
- Where is the smallest bone in the human body?
- What is the most commonly broken bone in the adult human body?
- How are falls best prevented?
- What is the number one cited reason for seeing an orthopedic physician?
How did you do? Check your answers here:
- Orthopedic comes from the Latin “ortho” (meaning free from deformity) and “pais” (meaning child). Early orthopedists would brace children to grow upward, strong, and straight. At SOA we treat children as well as adults.
- The human skeleton at birth is composed of 270 bones. By adulthood, some of these have fused together and decrease to 206, reaching maximum density at around age 30.
- Hands have the most bones, 27 in each hand. Feet are a close second with 26 in each foot.
- PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma. Blood is drawn, then centrifuged to separate the blood from the platelets; it is then injected into the appropriate site. The theory is that a large quantity of platelets might contribute to healing factors.
- The femur, or thighbone, is the largest bone in your body.
- RFA is a procedure where a specialized needle uses heat at a nerve site to block pain signals to the brain.
- The smallest bone is found in the middle ear, called the stapes.
- Almost half of adult broken bones are in the arm.
- Exercising may reduce injuries and improve balance.
- Knee pain was cited as the number reason in the U.S. for visiting an orthopedic physician.
Did you learn something new about orthopedics? Want more? Be sure to check all our blogs for information on many of these subjects, or, goto our home page at www.SOA.md and learn all about us. Our goal is to get our patients back on their feet, back to work, back in the game, and back to life! Call us at 941-951-2663 (BONE) for an appointment at one of our three locations with one of our thirteen orthopedic physicians.
Arthritis or Osteoarthritis that causes back pain can be a debilitating condition for the people who suffer from it, and a challenging condition for physicians to treat. Arthritis of the back affects the facet joints in the spine and although these joints can be injected, studies have shown that this may only provide temporary pain relief. With the recent technological advances in the field of interventional pain medicine, physicians now have the ability to block the pain from these joints for a much longer period of time.
Radiofrequency ablation is an outpatient procedure in which a specialized needle is used to apply heat directly to the nerves causing pain. After the nerves are heated, they are unable to continue sending pain signals. In addition to back pain, radiofrequency ablation is often used to treat buttock pain, posterior thigh pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and headaches. Studies have shown that radiofrequency ablation can reduce pain severity and frequency in the majority of patients with facet arthritis for up to one to two years.
Radiofrequency ablation is carried out in two steps. In the first procedure, which is diagnostic, a medication is injected into the back over the sensory nerves of the facet joints, also known as the medial branch nerves. This medication serves to temporarily block the pain signals.
If a patient gets pain relief from the diagnostic procedure, the doctor will move forward with the second step, which is the actual radiofrequency ablation.