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Cervicogenic headache

Thursday, 29th November, 2018 8:54am

I have to work on the computer for my work, but my neck becomes stiff and painful and I get a bad headache. What can I do to relieve the pain and prevent more headaches? - Margaret O

The kind of headache that you are experiencing is called a cervicogenic headache. One of the most common types of headache, it actually originates in the neck, and can mimic symptoms of migraines. A multi-faceted treatment approach has been shown to be highly effective for both relieving and preventing the recurrence of cervicogenic headaches.

Cervicogenic headaches are triggered by conditions in the neck, including degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis, disc herniations, compressed nerves, injuries from whiplash, falls or sports, or repetitive or prolonged activities such as work on a computer, housework or slouching, that have caused damage to the cervical joints, muscles, ligaments or nerves.

This damage produces pain signals which are referred to the head, causing headaches which can last from a couple of hours to two days, and as often as several times a week.

In addition, myofascial trigger points, TMJ Syndrome, and muscle tension can also contribute to cervicogenic headaches, and emotional stress, fatigue, noise and glare can be aggravating factors.

Cervicogenic headache can be experienced as a constant dull ache at the back of the head, pain on one side of the head, in the temples, behind the eyes, on top of the head, forehead or ear region, or may encircle the entire head. Neck pain, stiffness and difficulty turning the neck is also common, and less commonly pain, pins and needles, or numbness in the upper back, shoulders, arms or hands. Sensitivity to light and noise, blurred vision, and nausea can also occur. Cervicogenic headaches can occur frequently and cause significant debilitation, decreasing the quality of daily life.

A multifaceted treatment approach that focuses on the damaged cervical joints, muscles, ligaments and nerves has been found to be exceptionally effective in both relieving and preventing recurrences of cervicogenic headaches.


Haven’s comprehensive treatment approach includes:

Specific chiropractic adjustments of cervical and upper thoracic vertebrae have been shown to be the most effective treatment for cervicogenic headache. These adjustments correct the cervical joint dysfunction and subluxations, relieving the nerve compression, inflammation and muscle tension which are producing pain in the neck and head. American chiropractic is promoted by US federal and state agencies and the American College of Physicians as a safe and effective alternative to opioids for the relief of musculoskeletal and nerve pain.

Specific computerized programmes help expand the spaces between cervical vertebral segments, eliminate herniated discs, remove painful compression of cervical nerves and relieve neck and headache pain and radicular symptoms. NSSD is a safe and exceptionally effective alternative to surgery for spine and disc pathologies.

Laser energy administered at specific doses and wavelengths helps reduce inflammation, increase natural pain-relieving chemicals, eliminate trigger points, and provide instantaneous and long lasting relief of pain in the head and neck.

Myofascial trigger point therapy, TMJ therapy, ultrasound, electrotherapy, massage, custom exercises, and anti-inflammatories are adjunctive treatments, as well as stress reduction and rest.

Research has found that most types of headache, including migraine and tension headaches, have a cervicogenic component and these treatment guidelines should be considered in these cases as well.


Dr Michael Clifford is a US-trained Integrative Pain Management Specialist, and founder of Haven Integrative Pain Relief Centre at Galway’s Lane in Douglas where there is free parking available. Contact Haven by email on or visit If you are experiencing cervicogenic headaches and/or neck pain, call today for a consultation on 021-4857669.

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