Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic Headaches

By definition, cervicogenic headache is “referred pain (pain perceived as occurring in a part of the body other than its true source) perceived in the head from a source in the neck”. People with cervicogenic headaches often have a reduced range of motion of their neck and worsening of their headache with certain movements of their neck or pressure applied to certain spots on their neck. The headaches are often specific to one side and at times pain may radiate from the neck/back of the head up to the front of the head or behind the eye.

What should I do if I suffer from these headaches?

The first line of treatment for cervicogenic headaches is PHYSICAL THERAPY!

Helpful Tips About Cervicogenic Headaches

  1. Origin of these headaches often occurs from neck injuries such as:
    1. Muscles Strains/Sprains
    2. Pinched Nerves
    3. Cervical Disc Herniations
    4. Arthritis
  2. Your posture throughout the work day and office set-up may be the thing to blame! Common workplace causes include:
    1. Bad posture (rounded shoulders, forward head posture or prolonged neck flexion) - Bad posture can lead to increased muscle tension in your shoulders and neck, which is one of the most common causes!
    2. Arm Rests that are too high  - Your elbows should rest comfortably at 90 degrees if using the arm rest of your work or office chair
    3. Low Computer Monitor Height - Computer monitors should be at eye level or no more than 10 degrees below horizontal)
  3. A combination of soft tissue mobilization and therapeutic exercise can be the solution!
    1. Soft tissue mobilization (STM) can help relieve muscle tension in the neck that could be contributing to the pain referral. Increased muscle tension can “tug” on the fascia that encompasses your skull, in addition to possible compression of nerves located at the base of your skull.
    2. Combining STM with proper stretching and postural muscle strengthening has been proven to reduce severity and frequency of these headaches, leading to improvements in overall function and quality of life!
    3. According to a recent study, 72% of patients had achieved a reduction of 50% or more in headache frequency at the 12-month follow-up after participating in a program of therapeutic exercise and manipulative therapy, and 42% of patients reported 80% or higher relief of some sort.