March 21, 2022

Got Headaches?


Abbey Menard

Read Time

5 min

What Are Cervicogenic Headaches? 

Cervicogenic Headaches are headaches that originate as neck pain before migrating from the top of the spine towards the forehead.1 Cervicogenic headaches usually present with pain on one side of the head and are episodic in nature.1,2 Episodic means that the pain felt is not always constant and can vary in intensity.1 It is common to see headaches or neck pain worsen with neck movement.1,2 Typically, Cervicogenic headaches do not present with any aura or nausea.1 You may also notice it is harder to turn your head one way compared to the other and have pain on the same side.2 

How can Imagine Physical Therapy help? 

Here at Imagine Physical Therapy, we utilize several different types of treatment to decrease the intensity and frequency of Cervicogenic headaches. We look at the body as a whole to assess the best way to help solve your problem. You can expect on day one to be walked through an evaluation and begin treatment. According to the latest research, specific gentle spinal mobilization techniques have been shown to decrease neck pain and headache pain.1,2,3 Here at Imagine, we will also focus on strengthening the deep layer of muscles in your neck to help improve posture to better support your head and decrease pain.2,4 We will also focus on strengthening your upper back muscles to help improve posture with all daily tasks.2 We also utilize a technique called dry needling to the area of pain. We will also teach and send you home with exercises to decrease pain on your own! 

What is dry needling?

When you think about dry needling, picture an acupuncture-type needle. Dry needling involves the insertion of several needles in and around areas of muscular tightness or pain.5 Studies have shown that dry needling the muscles at the base of our head and along our main neck muscles can help to decrease pain associated with Cervicogenic headaches.5 Needles, not your thing? Don’t worry! We are still able to treat Cervicogenic headaches without them if necessary! 

Hall T, Briffa K, Hopper D. Clinical evaluation of cervicogenic headache: a clinical perspective. J Man Manip Ther. 2008;16(2):73-80. doi:10.1179/106698108790818422

Blanpied PR, Gross AR, Elliott JM, et al. Neck Pain: 2017 Revision. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2017;47(7). 

Paquin JP, Tousignant-Laflamme Y, Dumas JP. Effects of SNAG mobilization combined with a self-SNAG home-exercise for the treatment of cervicogenic headache: a pilot study. J Man Manip Ther. 2021 

McDonnell MK, Sahrmann SA, Van Dillen L. A specific exercise program and modification of postural alignment for treatment of cervicogenic headache: A case report. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2005;35(1):3-15. doi:10.2519/jospt.2005.1441

Sedighi A, Nakhostin Ansari N, Naghdi S. Comparison of acute effects of superficial and deep dry needling into trigger points of suboccipital and upper trapezius muscles in patients with cervicogenic headache. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2017;21(4):810-814. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.01.002