Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches mean that your headaches are coming from a problem with the muscles, joints or nerves in your neck.

(It is actually estimated that 90% of all headaches are cervicogenic in nature!)

Medication and injections can often help reduce the symptoms of cervicogenic headaches. However, if the cause of your headaches is physical in origin, it means that a physical problem requires a physical solution.

When it comes to headache treatment, most people prefer a natural approach (i.e., drug free). However, it can also be quite disheartening when so many of the common natural approaches (e.g., chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, etc.) don’t quite hit the mark.

This is where a different approach to treating cervicogenic headaches called the Blair technique can help.


What you need to know about Cervicogenic Headaches

The sensory nerves in your upper neck are what produce cervicogenic headaches:

  1. Vagus Nerve – The vagus nerve transmits nerve information for all your vital organs (i.e., heart, lungs, digestive system). It also supplies the connective tissues around your brain. It is involved with migraines, tinnitus and brain inflammation
  2. Suboccipital Nerve – The suboccipital nerve (C1) transmits sensory information from the top vertebrae in your neck. It is involved with headaches that produce dizziness and vertigo. A branch of the C1 nerve is also believed to produce symptoms consistent with sinus pressure headaches.
  3. Greater Occipital Nerve – The greater occipital nerve (C2) transmits sensory information along all parts of your head. It is involved with tension headaches, cluster headaches and neck pain. It is also has extensive connections with the parts of your brainstem that process sensory information on your face and has been linked to trigeminal neuralgia and TMJ disorders.
  4. Lesser Occipital Nerve – The lesser occipital nerve (C3) transmits sensory information across the back of your head. It is involved with tension headaches and occipital neuralgia.
  5. Supraclavicular Nerves – The supraclavicular nerves (C4) transmit sensory information across your trapezius muscles and the upper parts of your shoulders. They are involved with tension headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and tight neck muscles.

Here’s the important take away message: poor posture and tight muscles are not always the problem. When you have a problem with your neck that affects the nerves that supply these muscles, they will remain tight no matter how much you stretch or massage.

Stretching, exercising and massage are all important. However, if you only treat the symptoms without addressing the underlying cause, you may not experience any long-lasting relief from your cervicogenic headaches.

How is the Blair Technique different?

The Blair technique is an advanced approach for helping people with cervicogenic headaches. It is a speciality known as upper cervical chiropractic that does not involve any twisting, popping or cracking.

The major different is the precision of the care involved. 80% of all misalignments in the upper part of your neck occur when the top vertebra (atlas or C1) misaligns forward. Using a phone, a computer, sports injuries, whiplash injuries, and slips on the ice are some of the most common reasons this vertebra can misalign forward. When the C1, C2 or C3 vertebrae misalign forward, they commonly produce irritation of the nerves that exit the spine. As we mentioned previously, this irritation can go on to produce cervicogenic headaches.

The kicker is that most types of chiropractic, physical therapy and massage only treat misalignments when the atlas misaligns backward. This means that 80% of the time, you might be having the right area treated, but not quite in the right direction.

In addition, everyone is built differently. As human beings, we are all different on the outside as well as the inside. This means that an adjustment that may work for one person may not work exactly the same for someone else. Think of it like a bunch of keys. Different keys are designed to fit into different locks. What is important then is to make sure that any adjustment you receive is designed to work for you.


The Blair technique in Spokane, WA

The Blair technique uses a series of advanced diagnostic images (either digital articular X-rays or CBCT scans) to identify the exact location, direction and degree of misalignment in your neck. With this information, we are able to design an adjustment just for you that helps restore the normal motion in your neck. This allows your body to do what it is designed to do: heal itself. And when this happens, people report that their chronic cervicogenic headaches can finally resolve.

Even if you have tried general chiropractic to help your cervicogenic headaches, the Blair technique is different. If you are looking for a chiropractor in Spokane, visit our home page more information. To schedule a new patient appointment with our Mead (north Spokane) or South Hill offices, complete a new patient request form here or call us direct at 509-315-8166.