by Courtney Payne – Physiotherapist

Are you experiencing headaches that originate from the base of your skull and extend to one side of the front of your head? Do you also notice stiffness or pain in your neck, along with shoulder discomfort, dizziness, or pain concentrated on one side of your head? If so, you might be dealing with cervicogenic headaches.

These headaches are often triggered by neck movements, whether sudden due to an injury or prolonged due to maintaining certain postures for extended periods. Such movements can lead to dysfunction in the upper cervical spine’s joint, muscle, nerve, or vascular structures, resulting in pain radiating to one side of the head through the local nervous system. Over time, these headaches can develop from conditions like degenerative arthritis or weakened neck muscles. Additional symptoms may include light-headedness, nausea, and in severe cases, visual disturbances and tinnitus.

Individuals experiencing cervicogenic headaches often engage in activities requiring repetitive head movements, prolonged sitting, or frequent heavy lifting, both at work and at home. Common characteristics may include forward head posture, limited neck movement, weak deep neck flexors, and rounded shoulders.

Management of cervicogenic headaches involves a multifaceted approach aimed at alleviating symptoms and addressing underlying factors. This includes targeted therapies to reduce muscle tension, such as heat therapy and gentle stretching exercises, alongside techniques to improve posture and ergonomics, particularly for individuals with sedentary lifestyles. Strengthening exercises focusing on the neck and shoulder muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing the affected area and minimizing recurrence.

Seeking professional guidance from healthcare practitioners allows for personalized assessment and the implementation of comprehensive treatment plans, which may include massage, manual therapy, dry needling, or ergonomic adjustments to effectively manage your headaches and enhance overall well-being.