416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday - Friday 7am - 8pm

416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-8pm

Cervicogenic Headache: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Published by Better Health Osteopathy on 9 April 2016, Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are a common condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. They may occur for various reasons, but some headaches can be categorised as cervicogenic headaches. Cervicogenic headaches are a type of headache disorder that originates from the neck region. They can be confusing to diagnose because they can mimic other types of headaches, such as migraine headaches. If left untreated, they can persist and interfere with daily functioning and can have a negative impact on one’s quality of life. In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about cervicogenic headaches, including its symptoms, causes, and how osteopathic treatment can help.

Cervicogenic Headaches - Triangle Physiotherapy

Symptoms of Cervicogenic Headache

Cervicogenic headaches often affect only one side of the head, but the pain can also spread to other areas. The symptoms of a cervicogenic headache usually include a dull, constant pain that starts in the neck and then spreads to the head. People who have cervicogenic headaches may also experience symptoms such as dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, a stiff neck, and shooting pain around the head and behind the eyes.

cervicgenic headache

What Causes Cervicogenic Headaches?

Tiny facet joints (C2/C3) in your upper neck can get irritated and inflamed, causing pain. This inflammation can also irritate the nerves to these joints and the neck (Sub-occipital nerve and Optic nerve), further causing pain and driving the headache.

Sometimes these joints and surrounding muscles become mechanically strained and inflamed due to an awkward lifting/pulling motion with your shoulder. Or simply because your spine is maligned, which puts strains on the joints in your upper spine.

Other factors that can contribute to the development of cervicogenic headaches include poor posture, stress, grinding and clenching of the teeth, jaw issues. Lately, we are seeing so many more patients presenting with this type of headache due to spending long hours sitting in front of a computer or in Zoom meetings.

Can An Osteopath Help With Cervicogenic Headaches?

Osteopathy has been shown to be a highly effective approach in treating cervicogenic headaches. Our osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy are highly skilled in treating cervicogenic headaches of a chronic or acute nature. They utilise a whole-body approach to healthcare, focusing on the musculoskeletal system to promote healing and overall well-being. In the context of cervicogenic headaches, our osteopaths will treat the underlying cause of the pain in the neck rather than just addressing the headache symptoms. It is also interesting to note that many headache disorders, including migraine and tension-type headaches, and chronic can also have associated neck pain and tension that may respond very well to osteopathic treatment. 

This treatment can involve a combination of techniques. These include gentle manipulations, massage, and stretching to alleviate tension and improve mobility in the cervical spine. By addressing the root cause of the headache and promoting better posture and alignment in the neck, osteopathy can not only relieve the immediate pain but also reduce the frequency and intensity of future cervicogenic headaches. Furthermore, osteopaths often provide tailored advice on exercises and lifestyle modifications to support ongoing management of the condition. We believe in educating our patients about their headaches and providing as much information as possible so you can be in better control of your health.

Osteopathic Treatment for Headaches

6 Top Tips When Suffering From Headaches

  1. See your Osteopath, who will help diagnose and treat your headache.
  2. Use warm or cold compresses to your head or neck.
  3. Manage stress levels; stress can exacerbate pain levels and further tighten the joints and muscles in your neck.
  4. Check your pillow; a well-fitted pillow is important to support your neck and ensure a good night’s sleep.
  5. Gentle stretching of your spine and neck will help ease tension in your neck.
  6. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen can help ease inflammation. Talk to your GP about medication if required.

To summarise, cervicogenic headaches are a type of headache that originates from the neck region. Symptoms of cervicogenic headaches usually include a dull, constant pain that starts in the neck and then spreads to the head. Causes of cervicogenic headaches include neck injuries, poor posture, stress, and spending long hours sitting in front of a computer. To alleviate cervicogenic headaches, osteopathic treatment has proven to be highly effective, offering long-lasting relief. This treatment approach typically involves a combination of techniques, including hands-on spinal manipulation, rehabilitation exercises, and guidance on proper posture and ergonomics in the workplace.

If you suffer from cervicogenic headaches, our osteopaths are here to help! Make sure to jump online and book your appointment. Our friendly team are ready to assist you on your journey to better health and well-being.

If you are struggling with Headaches – please do not hesitate to contact the Osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

Better Health Osteopathy

Lorraine Herity is the Clinic Director of Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch, New Zealand. She previously worked in Osteopathic clinics in London and Ireland, before moving to New Zealand. Lorraine trained at the British School of Osteopathy in London, where she gained her Master of Osteopathy (M.Ost). Lorraine is a dedicated and passionate Osteopath. Her main aim is to help her patients regain their health and to return her patients back to their everyday activities, in as quick a time as possible. Lorraine is also a clinic tutor on the Osteopathic Course in Ara and relishes the opportunity to teach the next generation of osteopaths.