Cervicogenic Headache

By Justin Delicato, PTA

Cervicogenic Headache

What is Cervicogenic Headache?

The quick answer is Cervicogenic headaches are often referred to as head pain.  They are commonly misdiagnosed as a migraine. While some of the symptoms are similar to a typical headache. Cervicogenic headaches result from structural impairments in the neck.  They usually come from either the vertebrae or soft tissue inflammation.  In other words, these headaches are secondary and typically occur due to an underlying condition.  The conditions are severe high blood pressure, neck injuries, and infections. Below, this article will discuss symptoms, causes, and treatments associated with this diagnosis.

digital image of Cervicogenic Headache

Image of Cervicogenic Headache.

Symptoms of a Cervicogenic Headache

In my experience, Cervicogenic headaches are different from a migraine and primary headaches.  However, they also have similar symptoms as seen below.

  • Stomach sickness.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Increased pain with loud noise or bright lights.
  • Pain with a quick or sudden movement.
  • Pain while maintaining a static position for a period of time.
  • Neck stiffness or decreased range of motion.
  • Pain is localized in one area, for example, the eye or back of the head.
  • Pain can range from minutes to hours.

Causes of Cervicogenic Headaches

In therapy, cervicogenic headaches produce dysfunction to the first, second, and occasionally the third vertebrae. Occupations such as computer or desk work, driving, and manual labor can contribute to causing poor postural habits.  Therefore, these prolonged static cervical positioning could cause your Cervicogenic headaches. Other medical causes are listed below.

  • Arthritis.
  • Whiplash.
  • Infections.
  • Fractures.

Treatment/Physical Therapy

Fortunately, treatment of cervicogenic headaches can occur without any surgical interventions. In my experience, surgical interventions are rare. Treatment options include;

  • Medication:
    • Pain relievers, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatory.
  • Nerve Block:
    • Injection of an anesthetic close to the nerves that are causing the pain.
  • Physical Therapy:
    • Therapy can consist of stretching and stabilization exercises to help reduce pain. Other interventions can include soft tissue massage and manipulation techniques  It will depend on what your physical therapist feels is appropriate.

How does JOI treat Cervicogenic headaches?

JOI has a team of physicians who want to help you with your orthopedic treatment.   JOI offers 5 different physician locations and they are throughout the northeast Florida area. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, you may need to see an MD.  Please call 904-564-2000.

JOI also offers physical therapy in numerous areas in northeast Florida. We can accept referrals from any physician.  Physical therapy would assist you in relieving these symptoms.

In conclusion, if you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045. Come see us!

By: Justin Delicato, PTA

JOI Fracture and Injury Care Services

All JOI Physicians, Physical Therapists, and Occupational Therapists now offer Telemedicine services for virtual visits.  JOI physicians are also providing ASAP appointments for acute fractures and injuries.  To schedule, please call 904-564-2000, schedule online or click below.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician

Image of Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician


Skip to content