What is a Cervicogenic headache?

A cervicogenic headache arises from the first three vertebrae of the cervical spine and is characterized by recurrent, one-sided headaches with accompanying neck pain and stiffness. It accounts for 15% – 20% of all headaches and is most prevalent in people between 30 and 50 years of age.

The joints, intervertebral discs, nerve roots, ligaments and muscles of the upper cervical spine can all be contributing to a person’s symptoms.


What are the symptoms?

– One sided headache of moderate intensity, usually non-throbbing in nature
– Dull aching pain starting in the neck
– Reduced neck range of motion
– Pain triggered by neck movements and/or sustained awkward positioning (poor sleep position or workplace ergonomics)
– May be accompanied by diffuse arm and shoulder pain
– May experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, light, and sound sensitivity


Who is likely to get a cervicogenic headache?

People between the ages of 30 – 44 that spend a lot of time working a desk job or those that perform manual labour requiring repetitive neck movements are more likely to develop a cervicogenic headache as prolonged sitting in a poor posture and repetitive neck movements can cause muscular imbalances, joint stiffness, and trigger points, leading to increased tension and pain in neck muscles.


How Myotherapy treats Cervicogenic headaches

The research supports that treatment to the cervical spine and its surrounding structures leads to substantial long-lasting effects in people suffering from cervicogenic headaches. A Myotherapist will take a thorough assessment of the cervical
spine and surrounding structures, aiming to reproduce the patient’s headache symptoms to determine which tissues are likely contributing, to treat them accordingly.

Treatment techniques to reduce the headache intensity and frequency include dry needling, joint mobilisations, myofascial release, soft tissue massage, muscle energy techniques and exercise prescription. Together we will come up with a management plan to manage the flare and reduce the likelihood of reoccurrence.


About the author

CSSM Myotherapist Julia Meeuwissen’s interests include the cervical spine, TMD, and headaches. She is also passionate about working with athletes –  particularly runners and triathletes, understanding the physiological demands, the common musculoskeletal injuries, and how to support and manage these injuries when they arise.

“Headaches are a special interest of mine because they can be a great burden to someone’s day to day life that can be reduced substantially with treatment. I enjoy figuring out which tissues exactly are causing the headache and which lifestyle factors may be modifiable to manage and reduce the reoccurrence of chronic headache


To book an appointment with Julia, click here.


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