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Do I have a Cervicogenic Headache?

What is it?

There are a few different types of headaches; cluster, migraine, tension and cervicogenic. Cervicogenic headaches are different to the others because they start (genic) from neck (cervico-) pathology. These headaches are normally felt on one side of the head (although it may be both), and in the neck.

The structures that contribute to a cervicogenic headache are damaged or strained joints, muscles, ligaments and nerves of the upper cervical spine. These can send referred pain/ache into the back of the head, behind the eyes and the temple region.


  • Poor posture – forward head posture, slouching
  • Activities that place excessive stress on neck – sustained awkward position of neck
  • Muscle imbalances
  • Previous neck trauma (whiplash)
  • Poor ergonomic set up
  • Inappropriate pillow
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Stress


How are they diagnosed?

  • Headache begins in neck or base of skull
  • Mild to moderate intensity
  • Frequency, Duration highly variable
  • Associated symptoms (nausea, dizziness, photophobia, blurred vision)
  • May or may not have reduced neck movement.

 How are they treated?

  • Soft tissue release and joint mobilization, dry needling, electro therapy, postural taping, neural stretching, pilates.
  • Improve neck range of movement
  • Identification of precipitating factors (posture, movement related)
  • Rest from aggravating factors


  • Ergonomic improvements
  • New pillow
  • Posture retraining/ motor retraining
  • Self-management and exercise

Here at Life Ready Physio, we are constantly treating clients with cervicogenic headaches and achieve great outcomes.

Please contact us should you need any further advice.

Jess Ellison (Physiotherapist)

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