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Cervicogenic Headaches

What are Cervicogenic Headaches?

Cervicogenic headaches are headaches which result from spinal problems in the neck, such as disc degeneration or prolapse, or facet joint arthritis. They are quite common and under-recognised.

How can physiotherapy help people with cervicogenic headache?

There is normally a good response to Physiotherapy treatment for cervicogenic headache. Acute headaches normally respond rapidly to treatment. More chronic and continuous headaches may have a slower response to treatment as it may take times to alter poor posture and movement patterns. Physiotherapy treatment for this condition can help resolve the headache and focus on contributing factors to help manage the potential for reoccurrence. Treatment and management usuallyu include:

  • joint mobilization
  • joint manipulation
  • soft tissue massage
  • dry needling
  • postural advice, re-education and taping
  • education
  • ergonomic and activity advice
  • exercises to improve neck mobility and control

What are the causes of cervicogenic headaches?

  • Degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, a prolapsed disc in the neck, or a whiplash injury

  • Falling down or playing sports that cause injury to the neck

  • Poor posture while sitting or standing at work for prolonged periods. Very common in drivers, carpenters, hair stylists or people who sit at a desk

  • Falling asleep in an awkward position

How do I know if I have cervicogenic headache?

  • Throbbing pain at the back of the head

  • Pain on one side of the head or face

  • A stiff neck

  • Pain around the eyes

  • Pain while coughing or squeezing

  • A headache with certain head postures or movement

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