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Cervicogenic headaches

Cervicogenic headaches

A headache can be debilitating at times and can range in severity from mild where one can still continue with everyday life to being unable to do anything but lie in a darkened room. There are numerous types of headaches and the causes are varied.

A cervicogenic headache is a pain that develops from issues in the neck. They are more common in women than men. They are classified as a secondary headache. Secondary headaches are those caused by an underlying condition, such as neck injuries, sinus infection, or severe high blood pressure for example. This sets them apart from primary headaches, such as migraines.

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.

In a lot of cases, people who have cervicogenic headaches experience a headache accompanied by neck pain and stiffness. Certain neck movements can provoke cervicogenic headaches. However, there are some instances where clients report no pain or stiffness but the underlying cause is from.

There are some instances where people have no neck pain or stiffness but the headache is still originating from the neck. Tension in the upper trapezius, levator scapulae and the suboccipital muscles at the base of the head (sub occipital headaches), can trigger headaches. This can be a result of things like poor posture, stress an acute trauma eg heading a ball in soccer.

Physiotherapy can provide relief with cervicogenic headaches with:

  • Soft tissue massage
  • Vertebral mobilisation
  • Stretches
  • Acupuncture
And longer term solutions with:
  • Postural correction
  • Appropriate exercise programmes

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Referral pattern of cervicogenic headache

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The suboccipital muscles

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