Neck Pain Causing Headaches?

Here is what you need to know.

Before you get a headache do you often feel pain, tension, or soreness in your neck?

If you answer yes then you may be suffering from a cervicogenic headache.
Have you noticed that over the last year or two you feel more restriction in your neck and it often feels stiff or “locked up” on one side?
If you do then you’re neck problem might be getting worse.

A cervicogenic headache is just one of several different types of headaches. One of the unique features of this type of headaches is the referred pain – pain that seems to be coming from one part of the body, but the real problem is somewhere else. A cervicogenic headache is also considered a secondary headache which means the headache a symptom of another problem.


Other types of headaches, like migraines, can be associated with neck pain, but the neck pain isn’t considered to be the root of the problem. When it comes to cervicogenic headaches, however, there is evidence of damage in the cervical spine and the neck issues happen first, before the onset of the headaches.


There are several parts of the cervical spine (neck) that can produce pain when damaged or irritated – discs, joint capsules, muscles, ligaments, and nerve roots. If there is abnormal pressure on a disc, compression of a joint capsule, strain and sprain on the muscles or ligaments, or irritation of nerve roots then a cervicogenic headache can be a symptom.


Getting neck pain before getting a headache is a common feature, but not completely necessary to be considered a cervicogenic headache. Sometimes the problem in the neck doesn’t produce pain in the neck, just the referred pain into the head. Most patients diagnosed with cervicogenic headaches have restricted range of motion, usually more restricted on one side than the other. Also, the referred pain to the head is often on one side or just in the back of the head, not all over the head or behind the eyes like in the case of some migraines or tension headaches.


If you think you might be suffering from a cervicogenic headache it’s recommended that you focus on treating the root cause in the neck. Working with a doctor that has the diagnostic tools necessary (x-ray) to identify the problem in the neck and the skill to treat the neck problem is essential. Upper cervical chiropractors are on the top of the list of doctors sought after to help people with cervicogenic headaches.


The Specific Chiropractic Centers

(530) 893-1446

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