Neck Headache / Cervicogenic Headache – how can physiotherapy help?

Jun 28, 2019

What Causes Headaches in the Back of the Head and Neck?

A cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache caused by a problem with your neck/mid back joints and muscle tension.

The good news is that by fixing your neck/mid back problem, your neck headache or cervicogenic headache can be alleviated.  Approximately 47% of the population suffers from headaches and 15-20% of those headaches are cervicogenic  (Page, 2011).

Cervicogenic headache symptoms

If your headache is caused by your neck you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Neck pain which builds into a headache.
  • Headache is affected by posture or specific physical activities
  • Headache that increases with neck movement
  • A restriction in the movement in your neck

The common location of pain is at the base of your skull which travels up and over your head, pain in your forehead or temples or behind your eyes.

Cervicogenic headaches are often on one side of your head but can spread to both sides or alternate from one side to the other. Some people can also experience some other symptoms such as dizziness, ringing in ears, changes in vision, nausea.

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Self help, treatment and exercises for cervicogenic headaches

Please be aware of your body and take advice from your doctor before exercising if you have any aches or pains, or send us an email ( for advice and guidance.

Using a heat pack/wheat bag around your neck and shoulders for 15 minutes will help to relax muscle tension and can ease headaches (make sure you protect your skin).

Pectoral Stretch

You may be more likely to have cervicogenic headaches if the front of your shoulder is tight.

  • Stand at end of a wall or in doorway
  • Place inside of bent arm on surface of wall and position the bent elbow at shoulder height
  • Walk forwards and turn body away from positioned arm
  • Hold for thirty seconds repeat twice, three times a day.

Cervical Spine Retraction

  • Sit up tall
  • Keeping your eyes looking forwards
  • Tuck your chin to your chest (make a double chin)
  • Hold 5 seconds, repeat ten times, three times a day

Shoulder Shrugs + Rolls

  • Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears then relax down
  • Roll your shoulders round backwards then repeat forwards
  • Repeat each exercise ten times, three times a day

Thoracic Spine Rotation 

  • Sitting
  • Cross your arms over your chest and rotate round to the right hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times then repeat rotating to the left
  • Repeat 3 times a day

Cervicogenic headaches respond really well to treatment with a physiotherapist, sports therapist or sports massage therapist, so If you are suffering from ongoing neck pain/stiffness and headaches then please get in contact with us via, 07835 712306 or book online.

If you are looking for Physiotherapy in Havant, Rowlands Castle, Emsworth, Hayling Island, Waterlooville, Denmead, Chichester, Petersfield, Clanfield, Horndean, Cowplain, Catherington, Bedhampton or surrounding areas, Physio-logical has the expertise to provide effective treatment.

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