CERVICOGENIC HEADACHES

Cervicogenic headache is when pain that is thought to be felt in the head is actually being caused by referred pain from the neck.

What are some causes of neck pain that can lead to a cervicogenic headache?

  • Poor posture- having a forward head posture and rounded shoulders can excessively stretch and/or tighten the neck muscles
  • Prolonged/sustained positions- being in one position for an extended amount of time (laying, sitting, standing)
  • Facet joint dysfunction- when the small bony connections on the sides of each vertebrate do not move properly or get stuck with certain movements which can pinch certain structures in the neck
  • Arthritis in the cervical spine
  • Whiplash injury
  • Strained/Weak neck muscles
  • History of trauma to the neck 
  • Scoliosis
  • Sleeping posture

How do I know if I have a cervicogenic headache?

Here are some symptoms that can be associated with a cervicogenic headache:

  • Pain felt on one side of the head (temples), forehead or around eyes
  • Headaches triggered by neck movement
  • Pressure on certain parts of the neck
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Limited range of motion
  • Nausea or vomiting in severe cases

How do I treat my cervicogenic headache?

Cervicogenic headaches can easily be confused with other types of headaches or migraines, so it is recommended to seek a licensed physical therapist to assess what may be causing your headache. Physical therapy treatment may include:

  • Exercise Program: exercises prescribed to strengthen, increase range of motion, and relieve pain in the affected neck muscles
  • Manual Therapy: skilled techniques that involves the therapist using their hands to manipulate joints and/or relieve pressure in your neck to help relieve pain including suboccipital release, cervical traction, and joint mobilization.
  • Patient Education: providing tips on how to prevent pain from returning, improving posture, and proper lifting/bending techniques
  • If you feel that you are experiencing a cervicogenic headache and would like to examined by a physical therapist, click here to schedule an appointment.

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