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Cervicogenic Headache

Cervicogenic headache is caused by tightness, tension, and/or stiffness from the neck, especially in the upper cervical(neck) joints. The nerves coming from the upper neck joints supply sensation to the back of the skull, top of the head, and the jaw area. This causes headache/pain in these areas when the nerves are irritated and compressed especially in a "poke chin" forward head posture.  

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Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain that originates from the neck, radiating to the back of the head,forehead, behind the eyes and ears, or face

  • Triggered by neck movements, and/or prolonged positioning in an awkward or uncomfortable neck posture

  • Headache tends to be on one side of the head and rarely changes side

  • Limited neck range and movements

  • Tight and tensioned neck muscles


Causes of cervicogenic headaches

  • Prolonged sitting in an incorrect posture

  • Whiplash, car accident, concussion


What to expect in a physiotherapy session

  • Assessment to determine the source of the headache

  • Manual therapy (soft tissue release, joint mobilizations)

  • Stretching exercises

  • Strengthening exercises for the neck and shoulder region

  • Ergonomic advice


Tips for managing cervicogenic headaches on your own

  • Rearrange your desk setup to be ergonomic friendly

  • Avoid prolonged sitting, take a short break after every 1-2 hours of sitting at work

  • Apply a hot pack over the neck region for 15-20 mins daily

  • Stress management

  • Neck stretches


Other treatment methods (requires a visit to the GP or Specialist)

  • Simple analgesics (paracetamol, NSAIDs, COX-2 inhibitors) 

  • Other medications like Muscle relaxants, or tricyclic antidepressants

  • Nerve blocks

  • Trigger point injections

  • Botulinum toxin (Botox)

  • Surgical interventions (often only provide temporary relief with the possibility of longer intensification of pain)



Choose which option works best for you..

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