Tag Archive: headache

The causes of cervicogenic headache are varied and typically depend on the problem in the structure of the neck. Various causes are described below:

  • Degenerative changes: The most common cause of cervicogenic headache is degenerative change (arthritis) in the neck (cervical spine). These are natural aging changes that cause bony spur formation, pressure on the nerves, and laxity/hardening of the ligaments.
  • Kyhposis (reversal of cervical curvature): The neck normally has a gentle C-shaped curve (lordosis) that allows the neck to curve slightly backwards. This normal position keeps the head in balance and reduces neck strain. As our discs dry out, they lose some of their height , resulting in straightening of the neck neck.  In some cases, the neck angles forward instead of backward. This causes greater strain on the muscles at the back of the neck, and results in occipital headache.
  • Whiplash: This is an injury that occurs from the head being “whipped” back/forth quickly. The mechanism of injury is from the head moving in a flexion/extension motion. The most common type of Whiplash injury is due to motor vehicle crash or contact sports injury (such as football or soccer). Headaches following whiplash are very common and have been reported in 80% of persons at 2 months following whiplash injury. Even 2 years after a whiplash injury, 20-25% of persons will still have headaches
  • Nerve compression: A common cause of nerve compression is degenerative disc disease, or arthritis in the neck. As the spine ages, and the discs lose their height, the small joints on the sides become more narrow. The nerves then have less room to travel through the joint, resulting in pressure on specific nerves. Another cause can be from a herniated disc in the neck that causes pressure on a specific nerve. Less commonly, nerve compression may be due to other causes such as tumors or abnormal fluid cavities in the spinal cord.

Tune in next week  to read about the risk factors for causing CERVICOGENIC HEADACHE.


Gluten is a protein compound that is found in most grains, including wheat, barley, and rye. Some form of gluten is also found in other foods such as white rice, oats and corn. Gluten is the substance that can be mixed with flour that helps give the texture and consistency of breads, crackers and some pasta. There can be small amounts of gluten in many other processed foods such as cereal, sauces, salad dressings, candy, processed meats, and condiments. Beer and many other alcoholic beverages also contain gluten. The best way of knowing if the food you eat contains gluten is to read the label carefully.

How do you know if you are gluten sensitive? One way of helping to determine if you are sensitive to gluten is to try a strict gluten-free diet for at least 3 months. As more people are becoming aware of gluten sensitivity, there are a wider variety of gluten-free products available. However, read all of the labels carefully, as some products may say “gluten free”, but can still contain a small amount. Be aware that many sauces, canned products and condiments contain small amounts of gluten. One easy way of avoiding gluten completely is to limit any processed food and stick with lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries (read more about the Paleo diet). While you avoid gluten, keep a food diary that includes your symptoms (or lack of symptoms). After 3 months, review the diary with your health care provider and discuss if your symptoms have improved.

SYMPTOMS of gluten intolerance include (but are not limited to):

  • Abdominal bloating/cramps/ pain
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation, nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weight  gain
  • Hair loss
  • Skin rash- called Dermatitis Herpetiformis- itching, blisters, redness
  • Depression and mood problems
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain/generalized muscle pain


What foods contain gluten?—most processed foods contain gluten unless stated otherwise on the label

  • Breads/cereals/pasta/tortillas
  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • White rice
  • Pretzels, chips, pizza
  • many sauces, gravy, soy sauce and salad dressings
  • Beer and several alcoholic beverages
  • Cakes/cookies/pancakes
  • Processed meats (sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat, etc) and some cheese
  • Flavored milks (such as chocolate milk), and some soda such as root beer
  • Some additives in vitamins and supplements

The easiest way to avoid gluten is to avoid processed foods and stick to
lean meat, chicken, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries!

Cervicogenic headache is a common type of head pain that occurs in approximately 2.5% of the U.S. population. Occipital (back of the head) headaches generally occur from problems in the neck, especially the upper part of the neck. The pain originates in the neck, but it can radiate up to the head and cause head pain- called cervicogenic headache.

The headache usually radiates from the neck to the occipital area (back of the head), to the temples, or around the eyes. It can be on one side of the head (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral). The pain is often described as dull, aching, and is aggravated with head/neck movement . Poor posture, looking up, or looking down for long periods of time can trigger or worsen the head pain. Some people who have desk jobs or look up or down for long periods of time can have cervicogenic headache. Generalized muscle tension can also result in headaches that radiate from the neck up to the head.

The pain of cervicogenic headache can be due to problems in the neck, such as cervical discs disease, facet joint degeneration (arthritis), ligaments that become less stretchy, or from muscular spasm. The pain can come from any area of the neck, but commonly originates from the upper ( C2-3, C3-4) joints or discs.  Pain can also occur from unstable areas in the upper two joints (atlanto-occipital and atlanto-axial joints), and is called “atlanto-axial instability”.

Common causes of Cervicogenic headache can include:

Degenerative changes: or age-related changes in the cervical discs or joints

Kyhposis -reversal of cervical curvature

Whiplash injury

Nerve compression– typically from a herniated cervical disc that puts pressure on a neck nerve

If you think you have cervicogenic headache or other neck problems, the providers at the Neurosurgery Center of Colorado may be able to help. Call today for an appointment for evaluation.


There are fluid pockets within the brain that contain spinal fluid. In some persons, the fluid pockets can enlarge and result in pressure on the surrounding tissues. This is commonly known as hydrocephalus.

There are several kinds of hydrocephalus- some that the infant has at birth and some that develop over time. Hydrocephalus is sometimes diagnosed in the elderly population, and can be the cause of balance problems, thinking problems and other symptoms.

Some symptoms of hydrocephalus include (but are not limited to) headache, balance problems and falling, loss of bladder control, thinking, memory, confusion and cognitive problems, vision changes nausea/vomiting for no other cause .

The test of choice to diagnose hydrocephalus is generally a CT or MRI of the brain. If you are diagnosed with hydrocephalus, the team at the Neurosurgery Center of Colorado can help. Please contact us for evaluation.