Cervicogenic Headache

What is Cervicogenic Headache (CGH)?

Of all chronic headaches, the incidence of cervicogenic headache has been estimated to be 14-18%.

CGH is a chronic headache that arises from the upper neck joints and perceived in one or more regions of the head and/or face. These occur due to a neck disorder or lesion that causes the sensitisation of the trigeminal nerve within the upper cervical spinal cord.

How did it happen?

There is some evidence that multiple structures in the upper cervical spine can be the source that is referring pain into the head. The implicated structures are generally centered around C1, C2, and C3 spinal levels. This may include the joints, disc, ligaments, and musculature. It appears that the zygapophyseal joints, especially those of C2/C3, are the most common sources of CGH pain. This finding is even more common in patients with a history of whiplash.

Patients with CGH would usually present with tenderness at the upper neck joints with associated neck pain or dysfunction (e.g. reduced range of motion). The headache is usually exacerbated by neck movements or posture and is felt more on one side.

Physiotherapy Treatment for CGH

  • Cervical & Thoracic spine manipulation or mobilisation
  • Mobilisation with movement of the upper neck (C1/2)
  • Deep neck flexors and upper quarter muscles strengthening
  • Relaxation/Release of relevant muscles
  • Postural advice and education
  • Sensorimotor training

CGH can usually be significantly improved with physiotherapy treatment. Medical management such as injections, nerve block, and surgical intervention can also be considered if patients are in severe pain or there are other associated co-existing disease.

If you would like to know more about this condition or if you have any question, please do not hesitate to book in an appointment with one of our therapists. Alternatively, we also offer a 10min FREE consultation (no booking required) in our clinic.

Call us on 3216 9677, or click the “book appointment” button at the top right corner on our page!