Physiotherapy for "Cervicogenic" Headache

Headaches are a common reason for seeking treatment from Physiotherapy, and can have a significant impact on your quality of life. One type of headache that happen in conjunction with neck pain is referred to as a cervicogenic headache - a headache that originates from the neck. It is interesting to note that the upper neck segments can specifically cause pain referral to the head, base of the skull, temporal region or even the face.

Common symptoms of cervicogenic headache (CGH) include:

-Headache is one sided

-Headache is increased or initiated by specific neck posture and movement

-Tenderness of the upper neck

-Headache is associated with neck pain or stiffness

When headaches appear to be coming from the neck, physiotherapy can be a powerful tool for treatment, as multiple physiotherapy treatment options can help.

A review of current evidence notes that education on posture management, the prescription of exercises to strengthen specific neck muscles (build structural endurance) in addition to manual therapy can help to reduce the chance of the headaches reoccurring. Our experienced colleagues at Cornerstone Physiotherapy elaborate on causes and treatment of cervicogenic headaches here!


Manual therapy

Experienced manual therapists will screen for cervical movement dysfunctions and safely apply advanced “hands on” therapy techniques that include mobilization and manipulation of tight structures around the neck. These techniques, when applied skillfully, can help restore normal mechanics to the neck and be extremely successful in relieving headaches.


Stretching and soft tissue techniques

Physical therapy can help relax and stretch muscles that have become tight from injury or chronic postural loading. Gentle soft tissue massage and manual stretching have been shown to be helpful in managing cervicogenic headaches.


IMS or Dry Needling

Intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is a technique that physiotherapists who have completed IMS certification use to release trigger points that are causing chronic musculoskeletal or neuropathic pain. Very fine needles are inserted directly into the affected muscle, in order to stimulate relaxation of tight neck muscles that may be contributing to a patient’s headache. Although dry needling can be uncomfortable, when used strategically, it can be a useful


If you are experiencing headaches, call Physiohaus. We can help guide you on your path to recovery.