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Are Tension-Type Headaches really just undiagnosed Cervicogenic Headaches?

Cervicogenic Headaches are referred head pain due to separate problem with the structures of the neck. For example, poor body mechanics can cause us to misuse our muscles. The pain gets referred up to the head and we get a headache...or maybe it even triggers a migraine attack. Problems with vertebral misalignment, degeneration of discs or vertebrae, and bulging or ruptured discs can all be a cause of a Cervicogenic headache. Once the problem is corrected (if it can be) then the headaches will disappear.

So I wonder...
How many times do people think they are having a Tension-Type Headache when really the problem is in their neck? After all, we all know people whose headaches got better after physical therapy or chiropractic treatment. Could it be that they were correcting the cause of a Cervicogenic Headache?

I'm really intrigued by this idea and look forward to your responses.

  1. Personally I find that I can improve a headache which is involving my neck and shoulders by doing neck stretches that a physiotherapist showed me. It helps although doesn’t completely get rid of it but bringing the severity down is worthwhile. So I guess this might be the time when my headache is caused by the issues you mentioned. I do hold a lot of tension in that area and I also have displaced discs in my back.

    1. YES! PT can be a wonderful complementary therapy for managing migraine disease. You're right, we tend to hold a lot of tension in our shoulders and neck and stretching can go a long way in reducing that tension. How are you doing today? Nancy Harris Bonk, Patient Leader/Moderator Team

  2. I get Myoblocs which are just Botox shots in my neck and shoulders. Long ago I was hit from behind and got whiplash. A year later I started getting migraines at the base of my head. The myoblocs treat something called cervical dystonia and they definitely help. I think my upper body is completely twisted out of place and alignment due to the whiplash (which I still have 25 yrs later) and the cascade effect it’s had on all the soft tissue that is now so tight, all of the time.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Do you find these help with migraine? Wishing you a low pain day, Nancy Harris Bonk, Patient Leader/Moderator Team

    2. , cervical dystonia can undoubtedly be a contributing factor for headache disorders. I'm glad your injections are helping you manage them. The nerves in our heads and shoulders can get irritated and cause us to experience pain. My husband sees an Orthogonal chiropractor as part of his migraine management plan. He focuses on the very top of your spine at the axis vertebra. We have found combination therapy to be the most helpful in managing migraine and its symptoms. You might benefit from regular massages. I find them helpful aside from migraine issues, and it's a nice time of self-care, too, lol. Warmly, Cheryl team

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