How is headache characterized in cervical spondylosis?

Updated: Nov 09, 2018
  • Author: Sandeep S Rana, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Another poorly understood clinical syndrome seen with cervical spondylosis is chronic suboccipital headache. Although the C1 thru C3 dermatomes are represented on the head and it would seem likely that occipitoatlantal and atlantoaxial degeneration would cause pain in these areas, no contributions to these joints occur from the dorsal rami of C1-C3. In addition, the greater occipital nerve cannot usually be compressed by bony structures. Regardless, headaches can be the dominant symptom in a patient with degenerative cervical disease. The headaches are usually suboccipital and may radiate to the base of the neck and the vertex of the skull. [16]

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