How do I know if the pain in my head is associated with a brain tumour or a spine-injury?

Doctor's Answers (1)

The majority of headaches are not due to a brain tumour and more often caused by a primary headache disorder such as tension or migraine headaches.

However in some cases, headache can also be a sign of brain tumour especially when there are red flags.

The red flags are a new headache, one that wakes a person up at night, or worse in the morning. Similarly a persistent constant headache that last for more than a couple of weeks without improvement would be a reason to seek medical attention. Brain tumour can also cause other associated symptoms which help to differentiate it from other headache causes. The common associated symptoms include any of nausea, vomiting, seizures, problems with vision or speech, weakness in the arms or legs, and changes in cognition. With any of these, a person should see a doctor.

In answer to the second part of the question, cervicogenic headache is a type of headache where the source is in the cervical spine and the pain is felt in the head. This type of pain is known as referred pain. The actual problem could be in the bone, joints or the other soft-tissue components that make up the spine. The associated symptoms in addition to the headache tend to be related to the underlying cervical spine problem. These include a reduce range of movement, worsening of the headache with movement of the neck, and tender spots along the neck.

I have listed some of the symptoms that can help to differentiate between headaches due to brain tumours and those due to a cervical spine problem. Additional tests may be necessary after assessment by a doctor.

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