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Cervicalgia, cervicocranialgia, and cervicogenic headache

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Pain syndromes in the neck and head regions are one of the most difficult conditions to be interpreted in clinical practice. Craniocervical anatomical and physiological features are a basis for development of mixed pain syndromes showing as a polymorphic clinical picture in the presence of not only painful, but also tonic muscle, autonomic, postural, vestibular, and other disorders. The current concept of cervicocranialgia is based on the views and convergence between cranial (trigeminal) and upper cervical afferents, as supported by clinical and experimental data. These mechanisms are responsible for referred pain phenomena that are so characteristic of myofascial pain syndromes in the neck, head, and face. Myofascial pain may both be independent and occur in other types of primary headaches, specifically in migraine and tension headache. In these cases, the clinical symptomatology takes the features that are highly characteristic of myofascial pain: referred pain with a typical pattern of its spread, as well as trigger points and pain associated with postural loads and other physical factors. These peculiarities should be kept in mind when diagnosing pain syndromes in the craniocervical region. Current approaches to managing patients with cervicocranialgias encompass relief of pain and tonic muscle disorders and compensation for postural disturbances. For this, it is customary to use pharmacotherapy with antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and myorelaxants. Effective analgesia in these patients still remains an unsolved problem. Analysis of clinical trials can identify the most effective analgesic and safe agents for pharmacotherapy. The phenomena of myofascial pain determine the expediency of using myorelaxants that exert an intrinsic analgesic effect and reduce tonic muscle phenomena.

About the Author

G.R. Tabeeva
I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, Moscow
Russian Federation

Division of Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology, Department of Nervous System Diseases and Neurosurgery


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For citations:

Tabeeva G. Cervicalgia, cervicocranialgia, and cervicogenic headache. Neurology, Neuropsychiatry, Psychosomatics. 2014;6(2):90-96. (In Russ.)

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