cervicogenic headaches

There are a number of causes of headaches.

 Some common types of headaches include migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches and neck-related headaches (cervicogenic headaches).

In this post, we will talk about cervicogenic neck headaches and how to treat them

What Are Cervicogenic Headaches?

Cervicogenic headaches are chronic headaches that originate from the neck and are felt in one side of the head and/or face.

Typically, the pain will begin in the neck and spread into the back top and front of your head.

Cervicogenic headaches can also refer pain into your eye, or your shoulders.

What Causes Cervicogenic Headaches?

Cervicogenic headaches are caused by disorders in the neck which may involve the joints, discs, ligaments or muscles.

Neck pain and headaches can be caused by prolonged and awkward postures (e.g. sitting at you computer, working in awkward neck position) which irritate the upper joints of the neck. 

The neck joints may also be irritated by trauma from a sport injury or a motor vehicle accident.

In older people, neck pain may be due to degeneration.

Even if your neck isn’t sore or painful, you can still experience neck headaches.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cervicogenic Headaches?

Symptoms of cervicogenic headaches may include:

  • Symptoms typically only on one side of the head
  • Pain in the neck, base of head or extending into top of your head
  • Pain refering into the eye and/or shoulder areas
  • Pain occurring with neck movements or prolonged postures
  • Muscle tightness in the neck
  • Neck stiffness and reduced mobility
  • Neck tender to touch

What Is The Physiotherapy Treatment?

  • Mobilising stiff joints in the neck
  • Massage
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Dry needling / acupuncture
  • Posture correction
  • Neck muscle strengthening exercises
  • Advice relating to aggravating factors
  • Improving desk/screen set up
  • Core and upper limb strengthening exercises

What Can You Do At Home To Help?

  • Heat or cold may assist in reducing pain
  • Self-massage to the neck and base of head
  • Avoiding prolonged and poor postures
  • Simple exercises (see below)

4 Simple Exercises To Help Your Cervicogenic Headaches

Upper Trapezius Stretch

Hold side of head and gently pull head to side until a stretch is felt. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat.

Neck Strengthening

Place hand against head. Push your head against your hand as hard as you are able. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Repeat this one each side of head, front and back.

Levator Scapulae Stretch

Hold side of head and gently pull head to side and down to look towards armpit until a stretch is felt. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat.

Chin Tucks

You can do these lying on your back, standing or sitting
Move your chin back to feel a stretch from your neck to the base of your skull. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

There’s a lot more causes of neck-related headache. In some cases, headaches may be caused by more serious conditions and these can be treated by your local physiotherapist because they know the right headache treatment process.

If you’re experiencing headaches, please consult your local healthcare professional.