What is Cervicogenic Headache?
Cervicogenic headaches are secondary headaches. Secondary headaches are those caused by an underlying condition, such as neck injuries, infections, or severe high blood pressure. This sets them apart from primary headaches, such as migraines and cluster headaches.
The pain caused by a cervicogenic headache begins in the neck and the back of the head and radiates towards the front of the head. People may confuse cervicogenic headaches with migraines and tension headaches, both of which can cause neck pain.
In this article, we discuss some symptoms, causes, and treatments for cervicogenic headaches.
Typically, people who have cervicogenic headaches experience a headache accompanied by neck pain and stiffness. Certain neck movements can provoke cervicogenic headaches.
In most cases, cervicogenic headaches develop on one side of the head, starting from the back of the head and neck and radiating toward the front.
Some other symptoms of a cervicogenic headache include:
- a reduced range of motion in the neck
- pain on one side of the face or head
- pain and stiffness of the neck
- pain around the eyes
- pain in the neck, shoulder, or arm on one side
- head pain that is triggered by certain neck movements or positions
- sensitivity to light and noise
- blurred vision
What causes a cervicogenic headache?
Cervicogenic headaches result from structural problems in the neck and are often due to problems with vertebrae at the top of the spine, called the cervical vertebrae, and specifically the C2-3 vertebra.
Some people develop cervicogenic headaches because they work in jobs that involve them straining their necks. These jobs include hair stylists, manual laborers, and drivers.
People can also develop cervicogenic headaches after an injury to the neck. This is better known as wiplash.
Some medical conditions that can cause cervicogenic headaches include:
- arthritis of the upper spine
- whiplash or another injury to the neck
- Dry needling treatment to release the trigger points in cervical muscles
- Manual therapy to align and adjust the cervical spine