Headaches can be classified into two categories. The primary classification includes migraine, tension, and cluster headaches. The secondary category includes tumors, infections, intracranial bleeding and the cervicogenic type. The cervicogenic type is caused by an injury to the cervical spine (neck) region. Whiplash or other head and neck trauma can affect the nerves arising from the cervical spine region, which provide sensation to the back and sides of the skull.
Certain symptoms that are apparent in a primary headache condition can also indicate a secondary cause for the headache. A neurological examination is always a part of diagnosing a headache. CT scans and MRIs are common tools to investigate causes of headache pain.
Primary headache types can be treated by both pharmacologic (medication) and non-pharmacologic methods. Medications can be preventive or provide relief from pain once it has started. Non-pharmacological treatments include biofeedback, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (T.E.N.S.), acupuncture, and physical therapy.
Treatment of secondary headaches is directed toward the cause. Appropriate medications and/or surgery may be recommended. A cervicogenic cause can also be treated by therapeutic injections and other minimally invasive treatments that can significantly reduce the level and duration of the pain.