Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are headaches that originate from your cervical spine. It is one of the most common problems patients present with at our clinic.

What are the symptoms of cervicogenic headaches?

Typically patients report of suffering headaches that are behind the eye (s), along the temples and originating from the base of their skull or neck.

The above symptoms may be accompanied with stiffness in the neck and pain in the upper spine or upper trapezius muscle, a muscle that connects from the tip of your shoulder to the base of your neck.

What causes cervicogenic headaches?

Cervicogenic headaches are caused when there is increased sensitivity of the nerves at the top of your cervical spine. Sensitivity of these nerves are usually caused by:

  1. Poor posture
  2. Imbalance in muscles

Sitting with a slouched posture where your chin is poked forward, places a compression force in your upper cervical joints. Think of it as “pinching” the top few joints of your cervical spine, which consequently irritates the surrounding nerves and causes headaches and neck pain.

Our lifestyles and daily habits can cause an imbalance of muscles over time where some muscles weaken and some muscles tighten causing problems such as poor posture, compressed cervical joints and restricted neck movements which then cause irritation to the upper cervical nerves.

How do we treat cervicogenic headaches?

At our clinic, our physiotherapists will do a thorough examination to find the cause of your headache pain.

Our therapists have taken extra training after their University degrees and will apply a variety of techniques to resolve your pain, including but not limited to joint mobilisations, deep tissue releases, posture education, dry needling, stretches followed by an exercise program to restore the muscles around your neck.

Typically the phases of rehabilitation for resolving cervicogenic headaches will include:

  1. Decreasing your pain and discomfort
  2. Education about ergonomic set up and posture
  3. Restoring your neck range of movement
  4. Strengthening your deep neck flexor muscles
  5. Building your upper back and shoulder muscles

We would love to resolve your cervicogenic headaches!

If you have a cervicogenic headache and feel like you’re falling apart, make an appointment as we would love to help you out!


  • Brukner, Peter, Karim Khan, and Peter Brukner. Brukner & Khan’s Clinical Sports Medicine. Sydney: McGraw-Hill, 2012.
  • Swartz E, et al. (2005). Cervical Spine Functional Anatomy and the Biomechanics of Injury Due to Compressive Injury. Journal of Athletic Training. 40(3): 155-161