Cervicogenic Headache Vs. Migraine Headache

Cervicogenic Headaches stem from structures inside the neck and can radiate to the neck, back, front of the shoulders, scapula, down the arm, and chest.  Migraine headaches are a disorder of the central nervous system involving nerves and blood vessels. Migraine headaches are throbbing recurring headaches that are typically found on one side of your head.

Cervicogenic Headache

Symptoms:

These patients may report an increase in headache frequency and intensity, decreased ability to turn their head, increased pain with prolonged sitting postures, neck pain, muscle tightness and tenderness, arm and shoulder pain, weakness, dizziness, nausea and light headedness.

 Causes:

Joint stiffness in the neck, muscle and tissue tightness, multiple trigger points, or nerve irritation may lead to cervicogenic headaches.

Treatment:

Physical Therapy provides soft tissue massage, trigger point release, dry needling, stretching, modalities, joint mobilizations, strengthening postural muscles, and addressing proper body mechanics to decrease headache intensity and frequency.

Migraine Headache

Symptoms:

Migraines can have an aura or no aura.  An aura is a visual disturbance that informs you of a migraine onset.  Common auras are losing vision, seeing zig zags, light sensitivity, or flashing light colors.  A migraine headache causes increased pain and throbbing on one side of your head.

Causes: 

There are many causes to migraine headaches.  Some examples are loud noises, bright lights, food, weather changes, lack of sleep, menstruation, and smoking.

Treatment:

Determining the trigger for your migraine headache and working towards preventing it from happening.  Physical Therapy provides modalities, massage, stretching, and traction to help diminish symptoms and decrease frequency and severity.  Physical Therapy will teach you how to perform self massage and self traction to help diminish your symptoms.  In severe cases where migraines are daily or several times a week, medication is prescribed.

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