Cervicogenic Headaches


With cancer and cancer treatments there are more than enough challenges that can crop up in the patient’s life.  For my husband, he has definitely had his fair share.  When a new problem presents itself inevitably the mind goes right to the darkest place – fear that the cancer has spread.  This is not always the case.  The problem may be related to the cancer, but not necessarily mean that the cancer has spread.  Take for example the headache.  In my husband’s case his headaches have consistently increased over the last couple of weeks.  At the same time his mobility has been challenged due to his physical limitations and consequently his body has started to show the outcome of persistent pain.  His posture has changed dramatically.  His shoulders have rounded, his spine curved, his head droops forward.  He’s lost a good two, maybe three inches off of his height.  Throughout the last couple of months all of the family have commented on it, or more appropriately stated, nagged him about it.

So is there a correlation between the posture issue and the headaches?  I really do believe there is.  His headaches are textbook cervicogenic.  He has a rotator cuff injury which has been exacerbated by the use of a trapeze device over the bed to facilitate movement when lying down (mobility issues).  He has deteriorated discs in his thoracic spine that have contributed to his increased slouching (posture issues).  Add the two separate ailments together and it is bound to have a cumulative effect on his overall health – enter the headache.  So we have made a couple of positive responses to this.  First, in addition to a CT scan on Tuesday of this week to get an update on how his cancer is behaving, he is also going for a shoulder x-ray to see the exact issue with his shoulder – could be a corticosteroid injection will fix him up.  Second, he has started a series of small physio based exercises to release some of the tension in his neck.  He is far more mindful of his posture and this is the most important part of the response, to ensure he is aware of his posture so he can make those minor adjustments throughout the day.

The main thing we have to do is continue to stay focussed and positive.  Not every ache and pain means chemotherapy or radiation is required.  I write this in advance of the appointment on Tuesday, not knowing the outcome.  We won’t know the outcome until the 13th of January.  However, regardless of what the CT scan finds a little gentle exercise is not going to do any harm, and his increased awareness can do him a whole lot of good.

Any thoughts or experiences to share? Leave them here.

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