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Pain Management

Cervicogenic Headache

04/28/2008

Question:

For the past month I get these head pains in the middle and left back of my head. I get these mostly at night when I sleep and turn from side to side. I get a few in the day once in while when I move my head certain ways. I don`t seem to get them any other time and I feel fine otherwise. What could these be?

Answer:

Pain in the back of the head is often referred to as cervicogenic headache, meaning that it originates usually from cervical (neck) spine structures. It could be due to arthritis or whiplash injury to the joints in the back of the upper spine (facet joints) or arthritis of the joint between the first and second vertebrae (atlantoaxial joint) or the skull and the first vertebra (atlantoaxial joint). There are other potential causes for this headache and always a good medical history and exam is a prerequisite to making an accurate diagnosis.

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Response by:

Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University