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October 2021

Cephalalgia. 1997 Dec; 17(8): 801-16.

Headache and the cervical spine: a critical review.

Pöllmann W, Keidel M, Pfaffenrath V.

Marianne Strauss-Klinik, Berg, Germany.

Headache related to the cervical spine is often misdiagnosed and treated inadequately because of confusing and varying terminology. Primary headaches such as tension-type headache and migraine are incorrectly categorized as "cervicogenic" merely because of their occipital localization. Cervicogenic headache as described by Sjaastad presents as a unilateral headache of fluctuating intensity increased by movement of the head and typically radiates from occipital to frontal regions. Definition, pathophysiology; differential diagnoses and therapy of cervicogenic headache are demonstrated. Ipsilateral blockades of the C2 root and/or greater occipital nerve allow a differentiation between cervicogenic headache and primary headache syndromes such as migraine or tension-type headache. Neither pharmacological nor surgical or chiropractic procedures lead to a significant improvement or remission of cervicogenic headache. Pains of various anatomical regions possibly join into a common anatomical pathway, then present as cervicogenic headache, which should therefore be understood as a homogeneous but also unspecific pattern of reaction.

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