Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches begin at the base of neck, climbing upwards into the head and extending down into the shoulder and spine region.

What is Cervicogenic headache?

Cervicogenic headaches normally occur as a result of sustained pressure or stress on the muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves originating from or attached to the vertebrae of the neck. Cases of Cervicogenic headaches are reported in individuals of all age groups but most cases occur in individuals between the ages of 30 to 60 years of age with no gender predominance.

Sign and symptoms of Cervicogenic headaches:

  •  slow or gradual onset of a dull headache beginning from the base of the skull or neck, involving associated head and neck structures;
  • stiffness of the neck making every neck movement painful;
  • headaches may be unilateral or bilateral and, for the most part, involve the back of the head and neck region or temples;
  • aggravated pain and stiffness after activities involving the neck muscles (such as watching TV or working on computer).
  • tightness or tenderness of neck muscles that may also involve the shoulder or pectoral region.

What causes Cervicogenic Headaches?

The neck is perhaps the most delicate and important structural part of the body.  It helps maintain posture and serves a variety of functions in day-to-day life. The strength and stability of the neck is provided by the cervical vertebrae and the flexibility of the cervical joints that are supported by muscles, ligaments and other structural elements of the human body.  Certain positions and sustained postures of the body increase the stress and strain on muscles leading to fatigue and muscle spasm, involving the base of the skull and manifesting as a headache.

The following risk factors increase your susceptibility to Cervicogenic headaches:

  • poor posture or awkward positioning of the body for long hours that causes excessive stretching of muscles, ligaments or nerves (seen commonly in individuals who use improper pillows or fall asleep on chairs, couches, or other inconvenient places.);
  • lifting heavy objects without supporting the shoulder girdle properly;
  • using a computer in a propped up position for hours without proper back support;
  • any trauma to the  neck that involves excessive twisting, stretching or bending of muscles or tissues of the neck as seen after whiplash injuries .

At Ace Physio our Registered Physiotherapists are able to assess and treat your headaches.  Our techniques can help reduce your headache pain as well as your reliance on medications.
Some of our Physiotherapy treatment options may include; Spinal Decompression.

To book a Physiotherapy assessment call our office today at 416-900-6653


  • Sharon Gabison

    Registered Physiotherapist BSc, BScPT, MSc, PhD: A graduate of the University of Toronto in Human Biology, Sharon completed her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto. She went on to pursue further graduate work, completing her Master of Science from the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and a PhD from the Institute of Medical Science both from the University of Toronto. Her interest in Physiotherapy originated while pursuing her first undergraduate degree while struggling with postural challenges and seeking physiotherapy treatment. Her interest in medicine, working with people, and developing and adhering to therapeutic plans inspired her to pursue a career in Physiotherapy. Her interest in research, orthopaedics, neurology, therapeutic agents and pressure injuries (bed sores) lead her to pursue graduate work. Sharon emphasizes a holistic approach to rehabilitation. Her experience of raising a son with a disability has continued to inform her career that has spanned over 25 years. She is able to appreciate the rehabilitation process not only from the professional perspective, but from the client perspective. Her extensive knowledge of biomechanics, orthopaedics, exercise prescription, electrophysical agents with a strong background in research enables her to provide evidence based treatment when designing and implementing rehabilitation plans. With a special interest in patient and family engagement through her volunteer work, Sharon is able to ensure that treatment that is provided takes into consideration the unique challenges that individuals may experience when adhering to treatment recommendations in their busy lives.

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