Cervicogenic Headaches Dec 15 2020

Headaches have a large impact on quality of life and it is estimated that they effect up to 50% of the population (WHO, 2016). The International Headache Society have developed criteria for classifying headaches so that they can be diagnosed and managed effectively.

A Cervicogenic headache is secondary headache which originates from a disorder of the neck (IHS 2017, Grandhi et al, 2018). These types of headaches may account for up to 20% of all headaches (Haldeman 2001).

Typically someone suffering from Cervicogenic headaches will present with neck stiffness, reduced range of motion and tender points in the neck muscles (Haas et al 2017). These symptoms may be linked to neck pathology or postural dysfunction. Often we see this accompanied with muscle imbalances affecting the neck, shoulder girdle and pelvis.

To treat Cervicogenic headaches you need to address the factors that are specific to each individual presentation. Treatment may include:

  • Postural correction
  • Joint mobilisation 
  • Massage
  • Exercises to improve the flexibility of the muscles attaching to the neck and shoulders
  • Strengthening exercises for the core, shoulder girdle and neck
  • Addressing sedentary behaviours such as prolonged sitting at work
  • Desk assessment and advice including monitor, keyboard and mouse position

If you are experiencing neck pain or headaches and would like advice to see if physiotherapy could help then please get in touch to speak to one of our physiotherapists.

Josephine O’Callaghan

Specialist MSK Physiotherapist

Executive Physiotherapy

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