Headaches Part 3: Cervicogenic Headaches

If you are someone that suffers from headaches that seem to be related to your neck muscles, you may be a little confused after the post on tension headaches. You are pretty sure it is related to tight muscles, but your headaches do not feel like a tight band. If this is the case, you may be suffering from cervicogenic headaches.

Cervicogenic headaches are defined as head pain that originates from the neck and occipital area (the base of the skull). These types of headaches are relatively common, and tend to occur in those with previous neck trauma or cervical joint dysfunction.

Common symptoms include:

  • one sided head pain in the area of the neck and base of the skull that may radiate to the forehead, eye region, temples or ears
  • occurs after neck movement or sustained awkward head posture
  • pain may also radiate to the shoulder or arm in a vague pattern

Your chiropractor will typically be able to reproduce your headache symptoms with having you or moving your neck themselves, or with pressure on different muscles/joints in the neck.

First steps for self symptom control include applying heat, avoiding aggravating positions (including during sleep), reducing stress and exercising regularly. These type of headaches respond very well to neck adjustments and mobilizations, as well as soft tissue techniques and acupuncture. Home stretching and strengthening exercises are also beneficial to reduce symptoms and prevent reoccurrence of headaches.

Complete recovery usually occurs, but if there are underlying chronic conditions then they tend to reoccur.

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