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Cervicogenic Headaches


MigraineDiagnoses: Cervicogenic headache is a syndrome characterized by one sided or two sided head pain that is caused by either bony or soft structures of the neck. These headaches need to be differentiated as they can result from other disorders.

Symptoms: Symptoms might very from person to person and be dependent on the severity of the disorder. Some symptoms might consist of:

  • Onset of head pain following a specific or prolonged neck positioning like sitting at computer.
  • Onset of pain following external pressure on symptomatic side
  • Decreased neck range of motion
  • Symptoms in the neck, upper back, shoulder, or arm
  • Muscle tenderness

Less common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Same sided swelling

Causes: Cervicogenic headaches often occur from a previous head or neck injury however may also be present without experience of trauma. They can be related to postural impairments resulting in degeneration of the spine over time, causing underlying impairments with cervical bony or soft structures.

Our Physical Therapy Treatment: Treatment will focus on obtaining full cervical range of motion and pain relief. Individual goals of each patient will be addressed and incorporated into their program. Treatments might include:

  • Mechanical diagnoses/treatment for improved movement and pain reduction
  • Postural education and awareness
  • Traction
  • Manual mobilizations
  • Soft tissue mobilizations
  • Cervical stability and strengthening exercises
  • Functional activity training

Goals of therapy will be to enable the patient with the ability to safely return to their daily activities, as well as the tools they need to address such symptoms independently if they return in the future.

Biondi, D. (2005). Cervicogenic Headache: A Review of Diagnostic and Treatment Strategies. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 105, 16S-22S. Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2093083