Unveiling the Mysteries of Cervicogenic Headaches

Are you a desk worker grappling with persistent pain in the neck and extending to the forehead? Do you notice neck stiffness and discomfort, perhaps exacerbated by certain movements? If so, you may be experiencing symptoms akin to cervicogenic headaches.

Headaches are a common ailment that can stem from various sources, and one specific type that often goes undiagnosed is cervicogenic headache. Unlike tension headaches or migraines, cervicogenic headaches originate from the cervical spine, making them a unique and sometimes perplexing condition to understand. In this comprehensive blog, we will delve into the intricacies of cervicogenic headaches, exploring their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Understanding Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches, as the name suggests, refers to the headaches originating from the neck (known as the cervical region). These headaches are often the result of various structural or functional abnormalities to cervical vertebrae, muscles, nerves, or vasculature. Once these tissues or structures become irritated, overloaded or inflamed, pain receptors become activated and pain signals are generated. This can lead to the perception of pain that is then referred to the head. It’s important to recognize that this is a secondary headache disorder, meaning that the pain originates from structures outside the head but is perceived in the head.

Causes of Cervicogenic Headaches

Common mechanisms for these presentations include poor postural strength or postural habits, stress, trauma from a fall or whiplash. Conditions like vascular dysfunction, osteoarthritis, disc degeneration or herniation may also give rise to the development of cervicogenic headaches.

Symptoms of Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches exhibit unique symptoms that distinguish itself from other types of headaches during tasks such as prolonged sitting as well as various neck movements or sustained postures. Pain may initially present in the neck but then may also refer to different areas of the head including the back of the head, eyes, temples and forehead. Patients with cervicogenic headaches may also experience reduced neck range of movement limited by stiffness or pain.

Treatment Options for Cervicogenic Headaches

Once diagnosed, cervicogenic headaches can be managed through a combination of conservative and interventional approaches. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of symptoms, underlying causes, and individual patient characteristics.


Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in managing cervicogenic headaches. Our skilled therapists will utilise stretching and strengthening to alleviate tension and improve overall neck function; education around postural strategies to prevent the exacerbation of cervicogenic headaches as well as manual therapy techniques to release muscle tension and improve joint mobility. It is also important to discuss the impact of regular suitable exercise, tailored to each individual, in order to help maintain overall health and reduce the frequency of headaches.

Certain lifestyle changes can contribute to the overall management of cervicogenic headaches. For desk workers, modifying workstations and seating arrangements can promote good posture and prevent the onset or progression of cervicogenic headaches. Stress management and establishing good sleeping habits can further contribute to better headache management.


Cervicogenic headaches can be very frustrating and debilitating for patients. Understanding the specific mechanisms involved in the development for each individual is crucial for developing effective treatment strategies. To best manage this condition, our team at 13th Beach Health Services will locate the causes, identify the symptoms and provide an accurate diagnosis in order to formulate an appropriate treatment plan tailored for each individual.