Visual Aura and Migraine

November 13, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Have a skilled examination of your neck.

Have a skilled examination of your neck.

Cervicogenic (neck related) Headache, according to the International Headache Society1 is side-locked i.e. it is one-sided headache which does not change sides. In my experience however, a one-sided headache that changes sides is a Cervicogenic Headache.

I remember a patient of mine whose visual aura changed sides i.e. for the first 10’ it was on the left, and then for the last 10’ changed to the right. After treating her very stiff C2-3 spinal segment, the patient was and has remained free of her visual aura.

If your one-sided headache changes sides or it is both sides simultaneously but worse on one side and the worst side changes, it is your neck, and furthermore, it is the C2-3 spinal segment which is at fault – this is based on over 21000 hours of clinical experience with headache and migraine sufferers.

My message – have a skilled examination of your neck…

Cheers

Dean

(Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society. The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edn. Cephalalgia 2004; 24(suppl.1):1-151)

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.

Treating Headache and Migraine with Greater Occipital Nerve Blocks

November 10, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Blocking the greater occipital nerve (which prevents information from the neck influencing the brainstem) continues to attract attention.

The authors after reviewing 21 pieces of research, whilst recommending that further research needs to be done, concluded that blocking or anaesthetising the greater occipital nerve is a worthwhile treatment approach for cervicogenic (neck-related) headache, cluster headache and migraine.

The positive results obtained through this procedure suggest that neck disorders are involved in the mechanisms of these headache conditions …. but blocks are not necessary … a skilled examination and treatment of relevant neck disorders can achieve the same result, without injections!

Cheers

Dean

(Tobin J, Flitman S.Occipital Nerve Blocks: When and What to Inject? Headache 2009;49:1521 - 1533)

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.

Cervicogenic Headache is Rare – You Have Got to be Kidding (?)

October 7, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

In a study coming out of Norway the incidence of cervicogenic (neck) headache was found to be rare – only 0.17% of the population.

It is interesting to note that the diagnosis was made based only on the features of headache. It is widely accepted that features of headache alone are not sensitive enough to differentiate cervicogenic headache from migraine and from tension headache.

To diagnose cervicogenic headache, a thorough and skilled examination of the upper neck needs to be performed for temporary reproduction (and resolution) of familiar headache.

A physical examination was performed on only those headache sufferers selected on the basis of their headache features (and did include the above!). If it had it would have confirmed cervicogenic headache. However this is not the point, the physical examination was performed on only a select few!

Similarly, greater occipital nerve (GON) blocks blocks were performed only on those selected from their headache features – the blocks were effective in over 90% – I am not surprised. As with the physical examination, the blocks needed to be performed before a diagnosis of cervicogenic headache was made.

I have written before of the numerous studies demonstrating that headaches with a diagnosis of migraine are relieved by blocking the GON (greater occipital nerve) – who knows how many of the headache sufferers were excluded based on features and who had cervicogenic headache (?)

Previous research has shown that cervicogenic (neck) headache is as common as migraine.

Cheers

Dean

(Knackstedt H. Cervicogenic headache in the general population. the Akershus study of chronic headache. Cephalalgia 2009;29 (Suppl. 1):1–166

Nilsson N. The prevalence of cervicogenic headache in a random population sample of 20-59 year olds. Spine 1995;20:1884-1888

Rozen T. Cessation of hemiplegic migraine auras with greater occipital nerve blockade. Headache 2007;47:917-928

Takmaz, S. et al Greater occipital nerve block in migraine headache: Preliminary results of 10 patients. Agri 2008 Jan;20(1):47-50

Yi X et al Cervicogenic headache in patients with presumed migraine: missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis? J Pain. 2005 Oct;6(10):700-3

Young WB, Marmura M, Ashkenazi A, Evans RW. Expert opinion: Greater occipital nerve and other anesthetic injections for primary headache disorders. Headache. 2008;48:1122-1125

Young et al. The first 5 minutes after greater occipital nerve block. Headache 2008;48:1126-1139)

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.

Worsening Migraine Attacks Decreased Significantly By Cervicogenic (Neck) Treatment

September 11, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Long term worsening of the migraine process

Long term worsening of the migraine process

Recent evidence suggests that migraine is an increasing condition in which over time, the attacks become more frequent, more severe, less responsive to medication, and perhaps lasting longer.

Research has shown that by decreasing information (surgically) from cervical (neck) nerves deceases the long term worsening of the migraine process. The natural progression of cervicogenic (neck) headache is exactly the same – if it is left untreated, cervicogenic headache becomes more frequent, more severe and eventually becomes continuous. This indicates that with the passage of time the neck disorder is gradually worsening (and it is likely to be loss of function or stiffness). This research supports the idea that cervicogenic (neck) disorders are the reason for not only worsening of the migraine process but also for the migraine process in the first place i.e. sensitisation of the brainstem.

Now I am not suggesting that migraine sufferers rush off and have the relatively minor surgery performed in this study (in fact I respectfully suggest that skilled treatment of the neck would have achieved the same result), but this research clearly demonstrates disorders of the upper neck are significantly involved in the migraine process.

Cheers

Dean

(Perry CJ, Blake P and Goadsby PJ Intervention altering the natural history of chronic migraine. Is chroni?cation of migraine headache a harbinger of peripheral afferent nerve involvement? Cephalalgia 2009; 29 (Suppl. 1):1–166)

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.

The Enormous Amount of Research

September 6, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Despite the enormous amount of research into the various forms of headache and migraine their cause remains a mystery.

To help you, the headache or migraine sufferer know the source of you pain as precisely as possible, latest research into headache and migraine is summarised on this website.

This includes research into migraine, tension-type headache, cluster headache, paroxysmal headache, hemicrania continua, post-traumatic headache, menstrual migraine, sinus headache and cervicogenic (neck) headache.

Cheers

Dean

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.