What Are Cervicogenic Headaches?
Cervicogenic headaches are a type of headache caused by musculoskeletal issues in the cervical spine (the bones of the neck). Cervicogenic headaches are a form of “referred pain,” i.e. pain caused by damage to a part of the body (the cervical spine) that is felt in another location (the head). Cervicogenic headaches may occur as a side-effect of whiplash, weight lifting or other sports injuries, and other heavy strains on the cervical spine and/or head. Be sure to talk to your doctor or neurologist in depth about your headaches as well as your work and injury history to ensure you get the correct diagnosis for your headache condition, as each headache type of headache is calls for different treatments.
What Are the Symptoms of Cervicogenic Headaches?
Cervicogenic headaches manifest differently in everyone who has them, but usually appear as headaches with accompanying neck pain and/or stiffness. Here are ten common symptoms of cervicogenic headaches:
– Reduced neck flexibility
– Pain on one side of the head or face
– Neck stiffness and pain
– Headache triggered by certain neck positions/movements
– Light and noise sensitivity
– Pain in the eye area
– Arm, shoulder, or neck pain
– Blurred vision
– Involuntary flexion/tension of the neck
Proving Service Connection and Unemployability for Cervicogenic Headaches
Veterans who suffer from cervicogenic headaches are eligible for service connection if their headaches were diagnosed in service, within twelve months of discharge, or as a secondary condition to another service-connected impairment. Because cervicogenic headaches are caused by musculoskeletal issues in the neck, they are often diagnosed as secondary conditions to other orthopedic conditions such as cervical strain. Service medical treatment records, VA medical records, and records of other doctor and clinic visits can help you establish service connection for your cervicogenic headaches.
Once service connection has been established, cervicogenic headaches are evaluated using the disability rating scale for migraine headaches. This is because there are no rating schedules for headache conditions other than migraines. Instead, all headache conditions are considered “closely analogous” to migraines under 38 CFR 4.20. As a result, the maximum schedular disability rating a veteran can receive for cervicogenic headaches is 50 percent (see the rating schedule below). A rating of 50 percent is assigned to veterans who suffer from “very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability.” The term “prostrating” means that the headaches are so severe that the veteran is forced to lie down and wait for the pain subside.
Especially for veterans whose cervicogenic headaches are secondary to other disabilities, being forced to lie down for long periods of time makes ordinary functioning very difficult, especially the daily demands of a full-time job. If a veteran’s headaches are so bad that they cannot work at all, they are entitled to full unemployability benefits, not just 50 percent. Over the course of our firm’s work with veterans suffering from severe headaches, Friedman Disability has developed an understanding of the evidence and legal arguments required to win total disability ratings based on individual unemployability (TDIU ratings) for severe headaches.
Essentially, our firm’s usual argument is that a person who must lie down for long periods of time without prior notice is unable to meet the demands of a job requiring regular attendance. In order to prove this to the VA, our firm may submit opinions from vocational and/or medical experts, and will usually ask the veteran to keep a headache journal to record the frequency and severity of their attacks. Sworn declarations from family members, coworkers, or fellow servicemembers may also help demonstrate the severity of your headaches to the VA.
Rating Schedule for Cervicogenic Headaches
Like all headache conditions, cervicogenic headaches are evaluated using the schedule for migraine headaches, with a maximum schedular rating of 50 percent.
With very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability
With characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month over last several months
With characteristic prostrating attacks averaging one in 2 months over last several months
0 Percent (Noncompensible):
With less frequent attacks
Win a TDIU Rating for Your Cervicogenic Headaches with Friedman Disability
For more than 25 years, Friedman Disability has been representing veterans with a wide variety of physical and mental health conditions in their VA disability claims. Over that time, our veteran advocates have developed a suite of proven legal strategies, effective evidence-gathering procedures, and a network of connections to vocational and medical experts. Our award-winning disability attorneys have used these resources to win total disability benefits for more than 5,000 veterans, and are ready to help you too. Friedman Disability also has extensive experience winning TDIU ratings for veterans with severe headaches. Our fee is 20 percent of your past-due benefits ONLY if we win your claim. For a free legal consultation, call our offices today at 800-742-5035, or visit https://veterans-disability-lawyers.com/contact-us.