Are you continuously handling chronic headaches? Simple things can activate headaches, like a little dietary modification or lack of sleep. But persistent headaches are normally an indication that something isn't right.
Back and neck injuries are generally associated with headaches; clients frequently report that they experience headaches even after recovering from a back injury. Dr. Hui Kang and his team at Houston Pain Specialists are here to describe how back or neck injuries can trigger headaches.
The connection between your spinal column and headaches.
Your spinal column runs from the bottom of your brainstem down to your pelvic location. Injuries to your spine can mainly affect the surrounding locations because of the spinal nerves.
Your cervical spinal column, or neck, is the section just under your brainstem. It's made up of a group of nerves that form the cervical plexus. If a headache is triggered by a back injury, it's called a cervicogenic headache.
What is a cervicogenic headache?
Unlike a migraine, a cervicogenic headache does not come from the brain. These headaches begin in various parts of your body, generally the neck or back. Signs include:
- Stiff neck
- Throbbing pain
- Headache that results from moving your neck
- Isolated discomfort (only in one part of your head).
- Discomfort above or under your eyes.
There are a few health conditions that can trigger these headaches. Whiplash, for example, is damage to the tendons and muscles in your neck. It happens when your neck is jerked suddenly and violently, and your neck can swell and compress cervical nerves.
Cervical headaches are often confused with migraines. Dr. Kang can determine whether you're experiencing migraines or cervicogenic headaches.
Back injuries and headaches
Back injuries are known to affect other parts of the body. Spinal stenosis is a condition that narrows the small foramina, the little openings of the vertebrae. As they narrow, more pressure is put on your nerves. This can lead to a pinched nerve and might result in persistent headaches.
Another common back injury linked to chronic headaches is a dislocated vertebra. If this happens, additional pressure is put on your back and neck muscles, which can result in swelling.
A pinched nerve in your neck
A pinched neck nerve, or cervical radiculopathy, can trigger extreme headaches. A few issues can trigger a pinched neck nerve, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative illness.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. It triggers the joint cartilage to use down and puts a great deal of pressure on your spinal nerves. This can lead to extreme swelling and may trigger chronic headaches.
Degenerative disc disease
Back osteoarthritis can cause bone spurs as the cartilage breaks down in the discs that separate your vertebrae. Bone stimulates can irritate the cervical nerves. The irritation can produce headaches and discomfort in your neck.