Cervicogenic Headaches

Painful Headaches Originating in the Neck or Cervical Spine Area

A cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache caused by a neck disorder or lesion.

Cervicogenic Headache Facts & Information

When a headache is caused by a problem in the neck or cervical spine area, it is known as a cervicogenic headache. This type of headache can be a debilitating medical condition, having a very negative effect on quality of life.

More than 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, recurring headaches. Over 90 percent of headaches occur in the absence of trauma or underlying disease and are considered to be primary headaches – such as, migraines and tension headaches. When headaches occur as a result of a medical issue or condition, they are classified as secondary headache disorders.

Cervicogenic headaches are a type of secondary headache that arise due to problems with the bones, nerves, or soft tissues of the neck (cervical region). These headaches can be caused by factors such as trauma to the head and neck or osteoarthritis of the cervical spine joints.

The treatment for this type of headache differs greatly from the treatment for migraine and tension-type headaches, making accurate diagnosis essential for achieving pain relief.

If you suspect your neck may be the source of your headaches, our physicians have the expertise to diagnose your condition and offer proper treatment, returning you to an active lifestyle.


The symptoms of a cervicogenic headache can mimic those of a migraine, making the diagnosis difficult. However, there are subtle differences that you need to be aware of and they are:

-Pain that only occurs on one side of your head or face
-Headaches that are triggered by neck movement
-Awkward head positions
-Pressure on certain parts of the neck


Proper diagnosis starts with an experienced pain management doctor. The type of pain that you may have with cervicogenic headaches can be similar to the symptoms of several types of head or neck disorders. Accurately determining the correct source of your pain is critical to successful treatment.

-Begins with a thorough clinical evaluation
-Including a complete medical history, analysis of your symptoms, and physical examination
-Testing may include x-rays, MRI and/or CT scans, and electro-diagnosis (EMG)
-These advanced diagnostic techniques definitively pinpoint the source of pain