There are cases in which traumatic injuries causes head pain without evidence of disc herniation or nerve root impingement. How does is a chronic headache develop from a neck injury? The term cervicogenic headache describes a headache that is caused by structures in the neck. It is well established that intervertebral discs are innervated due to the recurrent meningeal nerve. Schofferman et al (2002) report that a single trauma can cause tears in the annulus fibrosis “which can lead to mechanical stimulation of annular nociceptors. In the middle and lower cervical spine, these structural problems can cause neck pain. In the upper cervical spine, they can cause headache.” When evaluating traumatic injuries, it is important to consider cervical sources of chronic headache in structures other than a herniated disc and the nerve root.
Schofferman, J., Garges, K., Goldthwaite, N., Koestler, M., & Libby, E. (2002). Upper cervical anterior diskectomy and fusion improves discogenic cervical headaches. Spine, 27(20), 2240-2244.
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