American Spine Institute

Cervicogenic headaches

Headaches can literally be a pain in the neck. They are frequently caused by joint or muscular dysfunction in the neck, poor posture, emotional tension or a combination of these. Headaches originating from or relating to neck dysfunction can be very successfully treated & prevented by Manual Therapy and Physiotherapy.

Cervical headaches or cervicogenic headaches are headaches caused by abnormalities in the cervical (neck and head) region, the cause is variable as described above. The mechanism of production of the headache is also variable. It can be referred from the upper cervical nerve roots, segments of the cervical spine which can irritate some of the sensory nerves. Headaches can be caused by trigger points in the neck muscles and head muscles.

These headaches may present as:

  •     Pain & tension in the neck
  •     Pain, ache & pressure in the forehead and back of the head
  •     Tension in the temple and jaw area

Pain that is made worse with sustained and repeated postures:

  •     (especially sitting) and movement of the neck
  •     A headache with a feeling of light headedness or dizziness
  •     Pain usually on the same side of the head as neck pain

Cervical headaches are usually described as a constant, steady, dull ache. It can be to one side or both sides. It can also feel like a pulling or gripping feeling, sometimes a tight band around the head. The headache usually is felt at the base of the skull and can be referred to the front of the head to the temple area or over and behind the eyes. The headaches usually come on over a period of time, gradually getting worse. The headaches may be present for days, weeks even months. Sometimes there may be a history of an acute trauma such as whiplash injury or repetitive trauma associated with work or a sporting activity.

Headache patterns from the cervical spine

Cervical headaches are often associated with neck pain and stiffness. They may be aggravated by neck and head movements. There may be a feeling of light headedness, dizziness, ringing in the ear and nausea. An inability to concentrate, impaired normal functioning and depression may also be reported.



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