What to Do If You Have Cervicogenic Headaches

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man sitting with his hands on his forehead

When was the last time your head hurt? If you are like most people, your answer is “recently.” Headaches, which affect millions of people each year, are the primary reason individuals take over-the-counter pain medications1. They are also the cause of emotional distress since many people cannot figure out what is causing their headaches.

Are you in this boat?

A Few Causes of Headaches

A large number of things can cause headaches, including:

  • Stress
  • Various illnesses and diseases
  • Bad posture
  • Whiplash

The list goes on and on. Another cause of headaches is neck problems. When headaches are caused by an issue in the neck region, they are sometimes referred to as cervicogenic headaches.

The Definition of “Cervicogenic Headaches”

It’s important that headache sufferers understand what a cervicogenic headache is. Why? Because, they may have cervicogenic headaches and not even know it, or they may know someone who does. Understanding what type of headache affects you will help you get treatment that will bring real relief.

A cervicogenic headache is “pain referred to the head from the cervical spine or muscles in the neck region. Typically with this type of headache, you’ll feel pain in the neck and on one side of the head – usually behind the eye, the forehead and temple. It’s not uncommon for a cervicogenic headache to feel like a tension headache, migraine, cluster headache, or other type of headache.2

 Symptoms of a Cervicogenic Headache

If cervicogenic headaches mimic other types of headache, how can a person know if he or she suffers from them? The answer is that the person will experience some of the following symptoms3:

  1. Non-throbbing, steady pain
  2. Pain that settles on one side of the head or face
  3. Head pain that ramps up when sneezing, coughing, or taking deep breaths
  4. A sudden pain attack that lasts anywhere from hours to days
  5. A stiff neck that is difficult to move

As with a migraine headache, a cervigogenic headache can cause vomiting, pain in the shoulder or arm, sensitivity to bright light and/or loud noises, and blurry vision.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, no doubt you are ready to get some relief. However, in order to do that, you’ll need to be diagnosed by a physiotherapist.

Related Reading: Can Physiotherapy Heal Headaches?

Do You Have Cervicogenic Headaches?

The only way to know for sure if you have cervicogenic headaches is to be examined by a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist can identify the type of headache you suffer from and prescribe a course of treatment that will bring long-term relief.

Physiotherapy is a drug-free treatment for cervicogenic headaches, as well as other types of headache. Contact a physiotherapist to learn more about how to find freedom from head pain once and for all.


1, 2. Curtis, Michael. Cervicogenic headaches: the best exercises for relief. https://www.michaelcurtispt.com/cervicogenic-headaches/.

3. WebMD. What is a cervicogenic headache? https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/cervicogenic-headache-facts_#1.

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