10 Common Symptoms of Cervical Headache

Do you often experience headaches that seem to originate from the neck? If so, you may be suffering from cervical headaches. In this blog, we will delve into the common symptoms associated with cervical headaches and explore their causes. We will also discuss the clinical presentation of these headaches, how to differentiate between a headache and neck pain, and the complications that can arise from cervicogenic headaches. Additionally, we will provide information on examination techniques and treatment options for cervical headaches, including both medical and natural remedies. Whether you’re seeking relief or simply looking to understand your symptoms better, this blog is here to help.



Cervical headache, also referred to as cervicogenic headache, is a type of headache that originates from the cervical spine and leads to head pain. It is commonly associated with neck pain and stiffness and can also cause pain that radiates from the back of the neck to the back of the head. Individuals may experience limited range of motion, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as headaches starting from the base of the skull or neck. Understanding the symptoms of cervicogenic headache is crucial for proper diagnosis and management.


Cervical headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches, are characterized by a dull, aching pain in the back of the neck or upper neck. Originating in the neck, these headaches often radiate to the head. In addition to neck stiffness and limited range of motion, other symptoms associated with cervical headaches include shoulder pain, dizziness, and visual disturbances. Poor posture, muscle tension, and cervical spine abnormalities can trigger these headaches. Stress and anxiety also play a role in their development.


Clinical Relevant Anatomy

Cervical headaches encompass the cervical spine and its associated structures. The occurrence of these headaches typically involves the occipital nerves and upper cervical nerves. Additionally, trigger points present in the neck muscles can transmit pain to the head, contributing to the development of a cervical headache. Factors such as poor posture and muscle imbalances are often known to play a significant role in the onset of these headaches. Furthermore, degenerative changes in the cervical spine, such as herniated discs or osteoarthritis, are recognized as potential causes for cervical headaches. Common symptoms observed in individuals experiencing cervical headaches include neck pain, headaches localized on one side of the head, and the occurrence of pain that extends down the arm.


Cervical headaches, also referred to as cervicogenic headaches, stem from the cervical spine and commonly manifest as pain in the back of the head, neck, and shoulders. The pain associated with this type of headache is typically described as a dull ache or pressure sensation. Cervical headaches are often triggered by factors such as poor posture, muscle strain, and stress. Symptoms of this condition may include neck stiffness, limited range of motion, and tenderness in the muscles of the neck and upper back. Understanding the pathophysiology of cervical headaches is crucial in developing effective management approaches. It helps in identifying the underlying causes and implementing targeted interventions to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals experiencing cervicogenic headaches.


Cervical headaches, a common type of headache, account for approximately 15-20% of all chronic headaches. They are more prevalent in women and individuals between the ages of 30 and 50. Risk factors for cervical headaches include poor posture, previous neck injury or trauma, and repetitive neck movements. Symptoms of cervical headaches include neck pain, headache that radiates from the back of the head to the front, shoulder and arm pain, and stiffness in the neck. These headaches can significantly impact the quality of life, causing discomfort and limiting range of motion.


Cervical headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches, can be caused by various factors. Tension and muscle strain in the neck and upper back are common culprits. Poor posture, such as slouching or sitting for extended periods, can contribute to the development of these headaches. Injuries like whiplash or trauma to the neck, as well as arthritis or degenerative disc disease in the cervical spine, may also lead to cervical headaches. Stress and anxiety can trigger or exacerbate the symptoms of cervical headaches. Certain activities that strain the neck muscles, such as typing on a computer or reading for long periods, can also be a factor. Considering these different causes, it’s important to address the root causes of cervical headaches to effectively manage and treat them.

Clinical Presentation

Patients with cervical headaches commonly report a range of symptoms that aid in their diagnosis. These symptoms often include neck pain, which can radiate towards the back of the head or temples. Limited neck movement and stiffness are frequently observed as well. Shoulder pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and the presence of numbness or tingling in the arms, hands, or fingers may also accompany cervical headaches. Identifying these clinical presentations is vital for the proper recognition and management of this type of headache disorder.

Differential Diagnosis

Cervical headache can frequently be mistaken for tension headaches or migraines because of the resemblances in symptoms like neck pain, limited range of motion, and sensitivity to light and sound. The differentiation between cervical headache and other conditions, such as occipital neuralgia or temporomandibular joint disorder, is crucial. A comprehensive physical examination and detailed medical history are key components in accurately diagnosing cervical headache. Additional diagnostic tests like X-rays or MRI scans may be required to eliminate potential alternative causes.

Outcomes Measures

To ensure accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of cervical headaches, healthcare professionals rely on outcomes measures to assess symptom severity and frequency. By utilizing pain scales and headache diaries, patients can provide valuable information about the intensity and duration of their headaches, aiding healthcare providers in developing appropriate treatment plans. These measures also allow for a comprehensive evaluation of associated symptoms, including neck pain, limited range of motion, and sensitivity to light and sound. By considering these outcomes measures, healthcare professionals can customize treatment approaches to address the unique needs of individuals experiencing cervical headaches.


When examining the symptoms of cervical headache, it is essential to conduct a comprehensive physical examination. This involves assessing the range of motion in the neck, identifying any muscle tension or tenderness, and performing neurological tests to rule out other potential causes. Diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays or MRI scans, may be ordered to obtain a clearer understanding of the cervical spine. If necessary, additional tests, including nerve conduction studies or blood tests, may also be considered. Collaborating with healthcare professionals, such as neurologists or physical therapists, allows for a more thorough evaluation and provides access to a wider range of treatment options.


When it comes to managing cervical headaches, individuals experiencing symptoms can find relief through various treatment approaches. Over-the-counter pain relievers are often the initial step, effectively reducing pain associated with cervical headaches. Applying heat or cold to the affected area not only offers relief but also improves circulation and reduces inflammation in the cervical structures. physiotherapy plays a crucial role in managing cervical headaches, with exercises and stretches that enhance neck mobility and decrease headache frequency. Stress management techniques, including deep breathing and meditation, prove beneficial in reducing tension and preventing headache episodes. It is crucial to identify and address triggers such as poor posture and excessive screen time to minimize the occurrence of cervical headaches. In severe cases, prescription medications like muscle relaxants or nerve blocks may be recommended by healthcare professionals. Consulting with experts, such as physical therapists or neurologists, opens up treatment options tailored to individual needs.

Physiotherapy Management

physiotherapy Management plays a crucial role in alleviating symptoms associated with cervical headaches. These headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches, are characterized by neck pain that radiates to the back of the head or the back of the neck. physiotherapy aims to improve range of motion, reduce pain, and enhance the overall quality of life for individuals experiencing these headaches. By addressing muscle tension, stiffness, and abnormalities in the cervical spine through techniques such as manual therapy, exercises, and postural correction, physical therapists can provide relief. Collaborating closely with a physical therapist allows individuals to develop personalized treatment plans that target the underlying causes of their cervical headaches.


Headaches localized to the back of the head and neck, triggered by neck movements or poor posture, tension and tightness in the neck muscles, radiating pain from the neck to the shoulders and upper back, sensitivity to light and sound, and feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness are some common presentations associated with cervicogenic headaches. These symptoms may indicate abnormalities in the cervical spine or its structures, causing secondary headaches. Cervicogenic headaches can be managed through various interventions, including physiotherapy, medications, nerve blocks, and more. Seeking appropriate diagnosis and treatment options can help alleviate pain, improve range of motion, and enhance the overall quality of life for individuals experiencing symptoms of cervical headache.

Symptoms of cervicogenic headaches

Cervicogenic headaches present with symptoms such as localized pain at the back of the head and neck, headaches triggered by neck movements or poor posture, tension and tightness in the neck muscles, radiating pain from the neck to the shoulders and upper back, sensitivity to light and sound, and dizziness or lightheadedness. Additionally, these headaches may manifest as one-sided pain originating in the neck, pain radiating to the back of the head or behind the eyes, neck pain and stiffness with limited range of motion, headaches triggered by specific neck movements or positions, tenderness and sensitivity in the neck and upper shoulder muscles, and worsening headaches with prolonged sitting or poor posture.

What causes cervicogenic headache?

Cervicogenic headaches are typically caused by issues or discomfort in the neck or cervical spine. Common triggers include whiplash injuries, poor posture, arthritis, nerve compression, and muscle tension. Identifying and treating the underlying cause is essential for effective management of cervicogenic headaches.

Diagnosing cervicogenic headache

Diagnosing cervicogenic headache requires an understanding of symptoms related to neck pain, shoulder pain, and headaches that occur on one side of the head. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and to distinguish cervicogenic headaches from migraines or tension headaches. The diagnosis can be confirmed through physical exams, medical imaging, and other diagnostic techniques. A personalized treatment plan can then be developed based on the underlying cause, often recommending non-invasive options like physiotherapy, chiropractic care, or other interventions. Effective management of cervicogenic headaches can improve the quality of life for individuals experiencing symptoms.

Treatment for cervicogenic headache

The treatment options for cervicogenic headaches involve addressing the underlying cause of the pain in the neck or cervical spine. physiotherapy techniques, including stretching exercises and postural correction, can help alleviate symptoms and improve range of motion. Medications like muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to manage pain signals from the cervical structures. In severe cases, nerve block injections or radiofrequency ablation may be recommended to reduce inflammation and compression in the cervical nerve roots. Alternative therapies like acupuncture or chiropractic adjustments can provide relief for some individuals. Stress management techniques, such as relaxation exercises or biofeedback, can also improve the quality of life for those suffering from cervicogenic headaches.


Cervical headache symptoms can be effectively managed through physiotherapy. This non-invasive treatment option targets posture improvement, neck mobility enhancement, and muscle strengthening to alleviate headaches. Manual therapy, along with stretching and strengthening exercises, addresses underlying cervical spine issues, promoting long-term relief. Moreover, physical therapists offer guidance on ergonomics and posture optimization to prevent future headaches. Personalized sessions are tailored to individual needs, ensuring optimal outcomes and improved quality of life.


Various medications can be prescribed to manage the symptoms of cervical headaches. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen are commonly used to reduce pain and inflammation associated with cervicogenic headaches. Muscle relaxants are often prescribed to relax the neck muscles and alleviate headache symptoms. Triptans, which are typically used for migraines, can also be effective for relieving cervicogenic headaches. In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend the use of antidepressants or anticonvulsant medications to manage chronic cervicogenic headaches. It is essential to follow the instructions and dosage recommendations provided by your healthcare provider when taking medication for cervicogenic headaches.

Nerve blocks

Nerve blocks, a common treatment option for cervicogenic headaches, involve the injection of a local anesthetic or steroid medication directly into the nerves responsible for the pain. This procedure provides temporary relief and reduces inflammation in the affected area. Consulting a healthcare professional is essential to determine if nerve blocks are suitable for your condition. They will consider your symptoms, medical history, and overall health before recommending this procedure. It is worth noting that nerve blocks may require periodic repetition for long-term management. By targeting the underlying cause of the symptoms of cervical headache, nerve blocks offer a valuable treatment option.

Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that offers significant relief for individuals suffering from cervicogenic headaches. By utilizing radiofrequency waves, this treatment targets and eliminates the nerves responsible for the pain. Administered under local anesthesia, radiofrequency ablation typically takes between 30 to 60 minutes to complete. The positive effects of this procedure can last up to a year or even longer, granting individuals lasting relief from cervicogenic headaches. If you are considering this treatment, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if radiofrequency ablation is the appropriate course of action for your specific condition.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

A non-invasive treatment option for cervicogenic headaches is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). TENS utilizes a small device that delivers low-voltage electrical currents to the affected area to stimulate the nerves and block pain signals. This technique provides temporary relief by reducing muscle tension and promoting relaxation. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before trying TENS for cervicogenic headaches to ensure safe usage and proper precautions. Incorporating secondary keyterms: headaches, cervicogenic headaches, neck pain, range of motion, neuralgia, whiplash, soft tissue, physiotherapy, occipital neuralgia, migraine, headache disorders, cervical spine, vertebrae, secondary headache, posture, physiotherapy, cervical vertebrae, referred pain, nerve root, tenderness, steroids, spinal cord, occipital nerve.


Neuromodulation, a treatment option for cervicogenic headaches, involves the use of electrical stimulation to modify nerve activity. It can effectively alleviate pain and decrease the frequency and intensity of headaches. This therapy encompasses various techniques such as occipital nerve stimulation and spinal cord stimulation. Occipital nerve stimulation entails the implantation of electrodes near the occipital nerves at the back of the head. Alternatively, spinal cord stimulation utilizes electrodes along the spinal cord to intercept pain signals. By delivering gentle electrical pulses, these techniques safely disrupt or regulate pain signals before they reach the brain, thereby providing relief from cervicogenic headaches.

Home remedies

Home remedies can play a significant role in managing the symptoms of cervical headaches. Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Gentle neck stretches and exercises can improve flexibility and relieve tension in the muscles. Maintaining good posture and avoiding activities that strain the neck can prevent the occurrence of further headaches. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can provide temporary relief from the discomfort. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, can contribute to reducing stress and tension in the neck muscles.

Complications from cervicogenic headache

Complications from Cervicogenic Headache:

Cervicogenic headaches can give rise to various complications and symptoms that extend beyond just headaches. The primary symptom is neck pain, often characterized as a dull or aching sensation. This pain can radiate to different areas, including the back of the head, temples, or forehead. Cervicogenic headaches can also cause limited range of motion in the neck, accompanied by stiffness and tenderness in the muscles and joints. Additionally, individuals may experience shoulder pain, feelings of dizziness, and lightheadedness. These complications can significantly impact daily activities and reduce the overall quality of life for those affected.

10 common symptoms associated with cervical headache.

Cervical headache, or cervicogenic headache, is characterized by a variety of symptoms that can greatly impact one’s quality of life. The primary symptom associated with this type of headache is neck pain, often radiating to the head and shoulders. People may also experience a dull, aching headache that originates at the base of the skull and extends to the forehead or temples. Additionally, individuals often have restricted range of motion and stiffness in the neck, accompanied by shoulder pain. Tingling or numbness in the arms, hands, or fingers can be a result of nerve compression in the neck. Some individuals may also report feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness.

Treatment options for cervical headache

Cervical headaches, commonly known as cervicogenic headaches, can be effectively managed through a range of treatment options. The primary focus is to identify the underlying cause, which can vary from muscle tension to nerve compression. Non-invasive treatments like physiotherapy, chiropractic adjustments, and massage are recommended to alleviate pain and improve neck mobility. Medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants, may be prescribed for symptom management. For severe cases, nerve blocks or injections can provide temporary relief. It is also important to make lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress and improving posture, and consider alternative therapies like acupuncture or biofeedback.

Should I see a doctor if I experience cervical headache?

If you experience cervical headaches, it is advisable to seek medical attention. A doctor can diagnose the cause of your headaches and suggest suitable treatment options. Cervical headaches could indicate an underlying condition that needs medical intervention. Your doctor can offer personalized advice based on your symptoms and medical background.

Natural remedies for cervical headaches

To alleviate symptoms of cervical headaches, it is important to explore natural remedies that can provide relief. One effective approach is to ensure good posture and maintain a neutral head position, minimizing strain on the neck. Stretching and strengthening the neck and shoulder muscles can improve flexibility and reduce tension, offering relief from symptoms. Applying heat or cold therapy to the affected area is another helpful remedy, as it can alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Engaging in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can reduce stress levels, which may contribute to cervical headaches. Over-the-counter pain relievers or natural supplements can be used to alleviate symptoms, while regular exercise improves blood flow and reduces muscle tension, promoting overall well-being.

How to differentiate between a headache and neck pain?

Headaches typically cause pain in the head, while neck pain is localized to the neck area. Headaches may have additional symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light, while neck pain can come with stiffness and limited range of motion. If the pain starts in the neck and spreads to the head, it could be a cervicogenic headache.

Treatment options for cervical headaches

Various treatment options are available for cervical headaches to manage pain and alleviate symptoms. physiotherapy, which involves exercises and stretches to strengthen the neck muscles and improve posture, is a common approach. Medications, such as over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed drugs, can also provide relief. Additional options include trigger point injections, nerve blocks, and Botox injections. Chiropractic adjustments are effective for improving spinal alignment and reducing nerve pressure. These treatment modalities address the underlying causes of cervical headaches, improving the overall quality of life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common symptoms of a cervical headache?

Cervical headaches often result in pain at the back of the head, neck, and shoulders. They may be accompanied by neck stiffness or limited movement. Some individuals may feel a throbbing sensation in their head, while others may experience tenderness or sensitivity to touch in the neck and scalp.

Where can I find physiotherapy near me?

To locate physiotherapy services in your vicinity, begin by searching online directories or using location-based keywords on search engines. Seek recommendations from your primary care physician, friends, or family who have undergone physiotherapy nearby. Check with your insurance provider for a list of preferred physiotherapy providers within your network. Read online reviews and ratings to make an informed decision about the most suitable physiotherapy clinic in your area.

Where can I find sports massage near me?

To find sports massage near you, search online directories or use specific keywords on search engines. Explore local fitness centers, sports facilities, and wellness centers. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, colleagues, or professional athletes/trainers in your area.


In conclusion, if you are experiencing any of the common symptoms associated with cervical headaches, it is important to seek medical attention. While there are natural remedies that can provide relief, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Remember, your health should always be a top priority. If you or someone you know is suffering from cervical headaches, encourage them to see a doctor for proper evaluation and guidance.

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