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cervicogenic headaches

Headaches: The Case of Cervicogenic Headaches

Table of Contents

Cervicogenic headaches are extremely common and treated daily in most physical therapy clinics. Many individuals we evaluate in clinic, whether they are being seen for their neck, back, or shoulders, reveal they also experience headaches.

What they come to find out through education by their physical therapist, is that these two injuries/ailments are often related, one leading to the other. The cervicogenic headache diagnosis is not particularly alarming, but it can cause debilitating pain while you are experiencing symptoms.

The Cause

While the result is a splitting headache (where you may want to hide in a quiet dark room), the cause may in fact be your neck. The diagnosis of cervicogenic headaches refers to a genesis of symptoms within the cervical spine (the neck joints). Broken down, the word cervicogenic is cervico (the neck) and genic (coming from). So, in full, cervicogenic headaches means headaches coming from the neck.

The Treatment

One solution is to mask the symptoms with medications, but, as a physical therapist, I prefer to address the cause. SportsCare Physical Therapy has professionals at each of our locations who can treat cervicogenic headaches.

During evaluation, we examine your posture standing, sitting, and possibly lying. From there, we will work on adjusting the positioning of your neck and shoulders to take the unnecessary strain and stress off your neck, upper back, and shoulders.

Further, we will examine your muscle function through a series of stretching and strengthening tests. With our findings, we can use many techniques, including soft tissue manual massage or gentle spinal traction, to stretch out the muscles and joints of the neck, decompressing the irritated region.

cervicogenic headaches stretching

Above are three exercises you may be given during physical therapy depending on our clinical findings and your current symptoms. Next time you are experiencing a headache, gently try these on your own. If you notice diminishing symptoms or complete resolve, give one of our SportsCare clinics a call or request an appointment online.

Through guided progressive training, we can instruct you on ways to avoid cervicogenic headaches in the future. If your headache does not improve, it may be related to something else, including stress, diet, sleep, or hormones, and a doctor’s visit may be warranted.