Cervicogenic Headaches

A stiff neck causing a headache.

Cervicogenic Headache These are headaches resulting from a tight neck causing muscle spasms. These headaches are very common after accidents. There are very small muscles that attach from the neck to the base of the skull, which often refer pain into the head; most commonly this is equal pain on the left and right sides, and radiates up towards the crown of the head (ram horn pain referral). These muscles respond well to manual therapies and adjustments of the cervical spine.

Additional Details for Cervicogenic Headaches

  • These headaches are not usually accompanied by neck pain, even though they are caused by soft tissue and bony structures in the neck. We will also teach strengthening exercises for cervical deep neck flexors.
  • Specifically, the issues occur at the convergence between the afferent and efferent trigeminal nerves in the upper three cervical/spinal nerves.
  • These headaches are usually located in the temporal region on one side, but can be on both.
  • There is usually a decreased range of active cervical motion.
  • Additional symptoms may include nausea/vomiting and sensitivity to light or sound (photophobia or phonophobia, respectively). However, these symptoms are not as prevalent as with some other types of headache.

Our typical treatment involves decreasing the hypertonic tone in the neck by adjusting the upper cervical spine and addressing the soft tissue dysfunction in that area.

Treatment For This Common Headaches

  • Adjusting the upper cervical spine.
  • Address the soft tissue dysfunction in the area.
  • Decrease the hypertonic tone/tension in the neck. 
  • Teach strengthening exercises for cervical deep neck flexors.
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