Cervicogenic Headaches

A cervicogenic headache is a type of headache that originates in the neck and refers pain to the head. It is usually caused by problems in the neck, such as muscle strain, joint dysfunction, or nerve compression – usually affecting the upper two cervical vertebrae. Cervicogenic headaches are often unilateral (on one side of the head) and can be accompanied by other symptoms, such as neck pain, shoulder pain, and dizziness.

Symptoms of cervicogenic headaches

The symptoms of cervicogenic headaches can vary from person to person, but they often include:

  • Headache on one side of the head
  • Restriction in head and neck range of movement
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling in the head, neck, or shoulder
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Fatigue

Causes of cervicogenic headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are thought to be caused by a dysfunction of one of – if not multiple tissues in the area of the upper cervical vertebrae. This dysfunction may be joint, disc, ligament or muscular related or a combination of these tissues. Both the

nerves that supply this upper cervical area, and the sensory nerves that supply the face and head share the same nucleus in the brain – it is therefore common for issues in the C1-3 region to cause referred pain and headache into the lateral head, and eye of the affected side.

Frequently we see these types of headaches in the clinic in those people who are doing long hours at the desk with minimal if any breaks, and often with poor desk setups. This scenario can result in an overload of the upper cervical area, and the resulting tissue irritation can lead to headaches.

Treatment for cervicogenic headaches

The goal of treatment for cervicogenic headaches is to relieve pain and improve function. Treatment options may include:

  • Soft tissue work to muscles in the area
  • Joint mobilisations
  • Exercises – mobility of the neck and upper back, activation exercises of the upper back and neck musculature
  • Medications
  • Advice on prevention

Prevention of cervicogenic headaches

There are no surefire ways to entirely prevent cervicogenic headaches, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk, such as:

  • Changing postures regularly
  • Optimising desk setups
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Managing stress
  • Getting enough sleep

If you are experiencing headaches that are severe, frequent, or interfere with your daily activities, come in and see us at Befit Training Physio and we can provide a thorough assessment and discuss treatment options with you.

Tom Eather – BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Tom Eather – BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Tom Eather, a Senior Physiotherapist based in Double Bay, Sydney, offers effective treatment for musculoskeletal problems. With personalized assessments and evidence-based rehabilitation programs, Tom addresses the root cause of injuries to achieve long-lasting results. Specializing in Golf and sports injury physiotherapy, he emphasizes comprehensive healing over temporary fixes. To book a consultation, click the link below.

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