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How to treat cervicogenic headache

Hello all

I would greatly appreciate any help with my almost daily headaches.  I have c5-c7 disc bulges and neural foraminal stenosis.  I take pain relievers and muscle relaxers which helps with neck and arm pain.  I however never get much relief from my headaches.  I have tried advil and Tylenol but they simply do not help.  These headaches stop me in my tracks and are the worst of my symptoms.  I would love any advice anyone could offer.  I have also used ice, heat, injections and a tens unit.  I am waiting on my two level acdf which I should have in about three weeks.  The stats for headache relief after this surgery are not good at all.





  • I wish I had some advice for you but I too have same issues.  I have severe arthritis with bone spurs etc & am almost always in pain of some sort.

    For myself, I will start with 2 Aleve and/or muscle relaxers, heat/ice whatever.  3 days ago I had 2 nerve blocks in base of my head.  For 2 days felt better.  But today the pain & spacy feeling head came full force.  My day was just shot.. This has been going on for too many years but the last two I would say are much worse.  Not a candidate for surgery either. Also have bulging disc but doctor said many people have that as well.    Bottom line is my neck is full of arthritis and is making like rather miserable at times.

    I am sorry for anyone suffering like this as it is awful.  I feel not so alone on this site.  ps --I do have Tylenol w codeine but I get dizzy so easy and I hate that feeling...

  • Hope to hear from someone with same issues.
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  • Oh gosh if only I had an answer to that! I have cerviogenic headaches. Acupuncture helps a little but is by no means a miracle cure. If you can easily afford it, give it a try. Takes multiple treatments to feel effects. Nothing really helps mine though-- I've been living with cerviogenic migraine for over two years. Recently found out it's due to a reverse curve in my cervical spine and a tethered spinal cord. (So yes I get loads of  scary stroke-like symptoms and MS symptoms etc..) Am embarking on 12 weeks of chiropractic 3x a week. Fingers crossed. Hope you find relief. The only other thing that sometimes helps me are prescription NSAIDs but they kill my stomach. And they don't always help. ((Sigh))
  • Thank you marie82 for your suggestions.  What is a tethered spinal cord?  Does your head sometimes feel spacey?  Hate that it is worse than pain at times.  Thanks
  • Thanks for the replies.  Headaches are hard to treat and they really just shut me down for a day or two.  I know mine are a result of my spinal condition.  Dr. and chiro both say there is not much to help with headaches.  Surgeon doesn't offer much hope of relief after acdf.  I usually just take a blend of different meds.  Muscle relaxers offer some hope but they make me so tired I am pretty much useless after taking them.


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  • You could try a stronger anti inflammatory, such as Naproxen (Aleve) or a higher does of Ibuprofen (Advil) - say 600mg, as opposed to the 400mg you get from your pharmacy.

    One thing I found out by accident is that Diazepam (Valium) works well but they don't like to prescribe that because it's addictive
  • Stay positive. I had every possible problem c4-c7, had c4-c6 fused and had instant relief from cervicogenic headaches. I'm now 8 weeks post op. I hope you have success as well. :-)
  • Hi Marie-Elizabeth, a tethered spinal cord is a condition in which your spinal cord becomes trapped and therefore overstretches. Normally the spinal cord floats freely within your vertebral column but when it become trapped by the vertebral column and/or attaches to scar tissue, it is constsntly stretched and therefore has pressure exerted on it at all times. Left untreated, it's progressive. It causes a whole host of scary neurological symptoms, like what you'd experience with MS and stroke. And yes it causes the absolute worst brain fog. I constsntly feel like I'm drugged and high but without the euphoria or pain abatement lol. 
  • Oh, I just remembered that sometimes taking a tincture of turmeric several times a day helps with inflammation. It definitely helps me use less Ibuprophen anyway. Worth a try! Find a turmeric tincture at whole foods or another health food store.
  • I had a lot of headaches - mostly starting at the back base of skull or inside from behind my eyes. Pain medicine doctor explained that tight muscles (freaked out by the bulging disks) were squeezing out the greater and lesser occipital nerves. PT, anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxers, hot showers, massaging the neck, and trigger point pressure, eventually made away with my headaches.

    Once the headaches were gone, I started experiencing nerve pain, and continued to have very intense neck and back pain, but that's another question.

    Not sure if your headaches are the same in nature, but if so working to relax tight neck muscles should help bring relief. Good luck!
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