Headaches can happen for many reasons which make it difficult to know what type of headache you have and the cause. Migraines, tension/cervicogenic headaches, and cluster headaches are the main forms of primary headache disorders. Commonly enough, many of them can be traced back to the neck or surrounding musculature.
WHAT IT IS
Posture plays a critical role regarding neck pain, which can cause pain in the head region, triggering a headache. Existing in today’s world with desk jobs, poor sleeping habits, and excessive technology use — to name a few — all can have potential influence on headaches. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments of our neck are pain sensitive and can send symptoms to other areas of the body.
WHAT IT ISN’T
Cervicogenic headaches are rarely a sign of something scary or dangerous. However, it’s important to distinguish the difference from other types of headache as they can share similar symptoms.
Migraine sufferers know a migraine from a “bad” headache. Migraine headaches are typically more severe than cervicogenic headaches and have a known trigger, e.g., food, light, smells. Pain is usually on one side of the head with symptoms behind the eye and at the back of the head.
Sensitivity to light and noise, and nausea and vomiting are common. Some experience “auras” or visual disturbances preceding a migraine. Migraines can last a few hours to as long as a few days and can occur seldom or several times a year.
Cluster headaches are the least common type, and their underlying cause is unknown. Cluster headaches are very intense and commonly felt right behind one eye — described as one of the worst pains you can experience. Cluster headaches occur regularly over a period in “clusters.” They can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, occurring multiple times in a day over several weeks.
If a headache occurs suddenly and accompanied by pain, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or unconsciousness — especially when associated with trauma — seek emergency medical care immediately.