Almost everyone will deal with a headache at some point, making them a very common health complaint. In fact, almost half of the population is affected by headaches. They can range from a minor nuisance to severe and debilitating that impacts daily life. The 3 most common types of headaches are tension-type, migraines, and cluster headaches. Cervicogenic headaches fall within the tension-type group, which will be the focus of this series.
Cervicogenic headaches are secondary headaches, meaning the perceived pain felt in the head is actually coming from another source (not the head itself). In this case, the source of pain/dysfunction is coming from the cervical spine, thus the name “cervicogenic”. Numerous pain-sensitive structures exist in the cervical spine that can contribute to referral pain and headaches, including bone, joints, discs, and surrounding soft tissues.
As with any condition, a thorough history and exam will help rule out any serious pathology, a proper diagnosis can be made, and the correct treatment can be applied.