Cervicogenic Headaches

26 Sep 13 - 12:26 PM

Headaches are a complex type of pain and there is evidence that a high percentage of headaches are due to problems in the neck structure. Chiropractic treatment is becoming a more commonly sought after avenue to manage these problems.

Cervicogenic headaches are due to referral of pain from soft tissue and articular structures in the neck including the suboccipital musculature and the upper cervical facet joints.

Convergence of nociceptive stimuli in the trigeminocervical nucleus allows referral of pain from neck origins to the head.

The presentation of these headaches varies as other forms of headache have cervicogenic components causing some overlap. Those with a pure cervicogenic headache may present with a complaint of daily headaches with no neurological signs. There is often reduced movement of the neck and pain, but not always.

So what can chiropractic do to help? 

  • Chiropractic management of pain from the cervical spine (neck pain, cervical headache, referred pain to the shoulder and arm) is based upon adjustment/manipulation, other manual therapies, exercises and patient education, all for the purposes of correction of dysfunction, early return to activities and prevention of recurring disability.
  • The reduction of neck muscle spasm following a chiropractic adjustment or manipulation to the cervical spine helps to relieve the pressure on the articular and soft tissue structures.
  • Education on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.
  • Use of trigger point therapy, massage and other supporting types of treatments to create a holistic approach to the problem.


Once accurately assessed and diagnosed by the treating doctor and chiropractor, patients suffering from cervicogenic headache often report dramatic improvement in symptoms in as little as 3 appointments. The patients then need to be empowered with self management strategies and are advised to keep in regular contact with their treating general practitioner to advise of any changes to symptoms.

Early intervention is the most important part in helping these patients achieve the best and fastest results possible. Chiropractic care is an essential ingredient in treating this debilitating injury for our patients.

Headaches are a complex type of pain....