Headaches – are they coming from your neck?

Have you been suffering from regular HEADACHES lately?

Cervicogenic Headaches

What are they?

Watch my video here or read on to find out..

Cervicogenic headaches (CGH) are defined as secondary headaches and are currently thought to originate from dysfunction of the upper joints, discs, muscles or nerves of the neck, which then refer pain to the head.

As these dysfunctions progress they can present symptomatically as a headache.

Current research around the topic of headaches indicates that up to 70% of headache sufferers report some degree of neck pain prior or during their headaches.

What are the symptoms?

Currently, three musculoskeletal impairments have been validated as clinical features of CGH, which aren’t present in migraine and tension-type headaches.

  1. Painful upper neck (cervical) joints
  2. A reduction in range of movement of the neck
  3. An impairment in the muscular system of the cervical spine

In addition to these, it is commonly reported that cervicogenic headaches will be:

  • Mainly one sided & unlikely to switch sides
  • Pain in the neck, shoulder or arm of the same side
  • Aggravated by neck movement or poor posture
  • Pain/ache that starts in the neck or back of the head and radiates towards the front
  • Can present with nausea and in some cases blurred vision


How did I get this?

Three common causes of this type of headache are below:

  1. Poor posture: Chronic compression of or pressure on the cervical spine can cause pain in the occipital nerve.
  2. Weak neck muscles: Muscles that cannot properly support the head or maintain the stability of the neck during movement may lead to cervicogenic headaches.
  3. Disc and joint inflammation or injury: Arthritis, age, or injury eg. Whiplash can inflame the cervical joints and ligaments. Chronic stiffness or poor rehabilitation after injury can cause irritation of the nerves in the neck and refer pain to the head.


What to do now?

The good news is that quality Physiotherapy management has been repeatedly shown to reduce intensity and frequency of headaches and neck pain.

Treatment by our Inline Physio Samford Physiotherapists commonly involves hands on therapy to improve joint mobility and reduce muscle tension and development of a personalised and progressive rehabilitation program to gain back optimal muscle control and strength to support your neck joints.

Come on down to Inline Physio for a thorough assessment, we are expertly trained to assess and treat cervicogenic headaches & differentiate these types from other types of primary headaches like Migraines or tension.


See you soon!

James Taylor

Physiotherapist and Exercise Physiologist