Cervicogenic Headaches and Migraines

What does the word cervicogenic mean?  It means ‘something that is derived from the cervical region’ and in this case cervical means neck. A cervicogenic headache or migraine (CGHM) is one where the source of the pain is thought to be in the neck, but the major pain sensation is in some portion of the head.

About 45 million people in the United States suffer from some form of periodic headache and/or migraine activity.  Those afflicted with head pain can miss days of work and give up productivity until relief is found.  Some sufferers have tried everything Western medicine has to offer to no avail.  In the medical industry, there are still disagreements as to what specific criteria allow for a definitive diagnosis of CGHM.  Therefore, there are many mixed diagnoses as well as misdiagnoses of cervicogenic headache/migraine.

Some of the signs and symptoms of a CGHM are suboccipital pain, pain in different areas of scalp, pain sensation behind eyes or sinuses, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity.  These signs and symptoms are more or less a combination of muscular tension in the neck and typical migraine symptoms.

Treatment options with Western medicine usually include some form of drug therapy such as analgesics, injections, physical therapy, and even surgery.  These types of treatments do not find the cause of the disorder, but merely treat the symptoms associated.  In doing so, things such as internal medications will probably be taken long term, possibly producing damaging side effects much worse than the offending problem.

Alternative medical treatments include acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments, meditation, tai chi, nutritional analysis, and herbal formulas.  The benefits for these alternative therapies is: the ability to be used in conjunction with many other forms of therapy; little or no side effect; non-invasive; can be used long term without degrading patient health.

For more information on how acupuncture and alternative therapies can help you relieve your headaches and migraines, check out the articles below:

Most alternative and complementary therapies require some commitment of time and effort on the patient’s part.  Nothing is gained without effort.  An investment in health is an investment in life.  Ask your alternative health practitioner how they can help you reach your health goals.

Trigger Points for Headache Relief – Splenius Capitis & Splenius Cervicis

Splenius muscle

Image via Wikipedia

The splenius muscles are muscles that make up part of the muscle group of the posterior portion of the neck.  Splenius capitis connects your cervical and upper thoracic vertebrae to the base of the head.  Splenius cervicis connects your upper thoracic vertebrae to your cervical vertebrae.  Both splenius muscles aid in extending the neck (as in looking upward) as well as rotating the head.

There are 3 trigger points that involve the splenius muscles, one for sp. capitis and two for sp. cervicis.  Location of these trigger points requires palpation in a general area on the neck where these two trigger points may be.  The sp. capitis trigger point is located approximately 1/2 to 1″ posterior to the back edge of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle and about 1/2″ 1″ below the occipital protuberance of the skull.  Also, the sp. cervicis muscle is not easily palpated.  It is located underneath the upper part of the trapezius muscle.  It is important to locate these trigger points by looking approximately 2 cm lateral to the C5 vertebra.

Trigger points in the splenius muscles are a common cause of headaches on the top of the head (vertex headaches), pain behind the eyes, pain in rotation of head (stiff neck), and a feeling of tightness wrapping around the head.  Ocassionally, orbital pain of the eye and blurring of vision can occur with tightness in sp. capitis and sp. cervicis.

Treatment:  Press or squeeze the posterior muscles of the neck by using the thumb of the ipsilateral side.  Use the fingers of the same hand for leverage by grasping the other side of the neck.  Lying down on the floor gives the muscles a chance to relax while you work on them.

The important thing to understand is that these two splenius muscles are rarely tight on their own.  More than likely, there are other muscles in the posterior neck region that are also in need of treatment.  Correct head and neck posture will help to keep these muscles from overuse and reduce the amount of strain they will receive.

Massage the splenius muscles for 5-10 minutes twice a day, 3-4 times a week.