Arthritis headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches, are caused by arthritis that affects the neck and spine. These headaches usually occur when the arthritis affects any of the first three vertebras, although in some cases, it may also affect the 4th to 6th vertebrae, as well. The headaches caused by arthritis can be managed on its own; however, the priority is still to treat the arthritis which will reduce the headaches and other symptoms that come with this disease. To make sure that one gets the proper treatment for this type of condition, doctors may put their patients through several tests in order to determine whether arthritis is indeed causing the headaches.
Causes and Symptoms of Arthritis Headaches
There are several factors that can cause arthritis headaches. A person with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis in the vertebrae close to the neck can experience this type of headache. People who have stopped taking arthritis medications or fail to take them after being reliant on the medication to relieve arthritis pain can also suffer from withdrawal headaches. If over the counter pain medications can’t help in relieving the pain, it may be a sign that a person has been over-medicating and is experiencing rebound headaches.
The pain felt by people suffering from cervicogenic headaches is concentrated at the back of the head. In some cases, where there’s a pinched nerve caused by a degenerating disk or an arthritic bone, the headaches may be accompanied by a tingling sensation felt in the arms, neck or scalp, as well as some weakness in the arms. Not all people who experience neck pain and headaches have cervicogenic headaches. A lot of times migraines are misdiagnosed as arthritis related headaches. This is why it is important to take note of the symptoms that come with the headaches and neck pain so that the doctor may have a clearer idea of what may be causing the headaches. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our headache specialists immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Treating Arthritis Headaches
Unless the arthritis that is causing the headaches is treated, a person can only manage his or her arthritis headaches. Analgesics that are available over the counter are usually effective in managing headaches caused by arthritis; however, it is important to consult a doctor first before taking any headache medications to make sure that you won’t have any bad interactions with the drugs prescribed to treat arthritis pain. Also, taking analgesics on top of arthritis medication is the number one cause of rebound headaches in people with arthritis.
The best way to treat cervicogenic headaches is to treat underlying condition causing it which is, in this case, arthritis. Often, doctors prescribe Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) to help relieve arthritis pain and the painful symptoms that come with it. In more severe cases, surgery may be an option. Doctors may also prescribe sessions of physical therapy and massage to help with managing the arthritis.
Getting the proper treatment for cervicogenic headaches requires proper diagnosis. If you suspect that you’re experiencing arthritis headaches, contact our office or consult with one of our headache specialists immediately to get the proper treatment for your condition.