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What Do Cervicogenic Headaches Feel Like?

Man holding head for cervicogenic headache

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Cervicogenic headaches include a constant, non-throbbing discomfort at the base and back of the skull. This pain might radiate down into the neck and in the space between the shoulder blades. 

Although the issue starts in the cervical spine, you may experience pain behind the brow and forehead area.

Cervicogenic headache exercises

Here are some exercises for cervicogenic headaches:

1. Chin tucks

As you sit, keep your back upright on the back of the chair and your butt against the seat’s back. Move your chin to the front of your throat without bending your head.

Give yourself a double chin without tilting the skull down. You can spend 5 seconds in this position before relaxing. Each hour, repeat this process several times.

2. Foam roller lying

Lay on your back with the foam roller under you. Allow the roller to roll down the length of your back from your neck to below your tailbone. Keep your legs bent during the stretch to relax your low back, and use a pillow for optimal neck support.

Let your shoulders drop on either side of the roll to stretch the anterior chest muscles, which become stiff due to repetitive improper posture. Do this exercise for 10 minutes twice a day.

3. Corner pec stretch

Place one foot slightly in front of the other as you stand in a corner. With the arms up and the elbows bent, stand with the forearms up against either wall.

Move your body weight over the front leg while keeping your back and neck upright to experience a gentle stretch at the front of your chest on both sides. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat three times daily.

4. Sitting posture

If you start to get a headache, consider performing the following three steps:

  • Provide complete support to your back by the chair when you sit, keeping your feet flat on the floor.
  • Start breathing and notice how your sternum and upper ribs lift higher with each exhalation without your shoulders tensing up.
  • Keep your sternum raised as you exhale, and notice how your shoulders naturally fall back and down.

After doing the above three steps, finish the procedure with a slight chin nod.

How do I know if I have a cervicogenic headache?

Woman hoding head during work for stress

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The typical onset of cervicogenic headaches is a dull discomfort in the neck that travels upward along the back of the head, almost invariably being unilateral.

The forehead, temples, and region surrounding the eyes and/or ears may also experience pain.

A disc, joint, muscle, or nerve problem in the neck is the underlying cause of this headache.

Cervicogenic headache tumor

Restricted blood flow through the neck and irritation of the nerves that travel from the spinal cord to the brain may cause a cervicogenic headache. Sometimes these irritations of nerves can be caused by nasopharyngeal cancer tumors.

How long can cervicogenic headaches last?

The primary issue, typically a disease or physical condition in another part of the body, is what causes the cervicogenic headache. These headaches can last for months or even years.

It’s crucial to get diagnosed and start treatment as soon as you start experiencing severe headaches.

How long can a cervicogenic headache last?

Woman covering eyes for cervicogenic headache

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After receiving home therapy, minor cervicogenic headaches often go away. But if your cervicogenic headache occurs due to bad posture or a degenerative condition, it will probably return without proper treatment.

How painful is a cervicogenic headache?

It is a typical chronic headache that flares up periodically and usually occurs after moving the neck. It frequently goes along with a decreased neck range of motion.

After your doctor treats the underlying illness or lesion, the pain usually goes away within three months.

Cervical spondylosis headache

Cervical spondylosis headache

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The joints and tissues that build up the spine become worn as humans age. For instance, the ligaments in the spine may harden, and the discs may dry up and shrink.

When the joints adjust to the strains of regular daily life, a process known as “wear and repair” starts in every joint of the body. When “wear and repair” are out of balance, cervical spondylosis results, causing discomfort and stiffness in the neck.

Neck pain, stiffness, and headaches are among cervical spondylosis’s most prevalent symptoms. It might cause nerve compression in the neck, resulting in severe arm pain and a lack of sensation in the legs and hands.

The patient may also lose coordination and can have trouble walking. However, many sufferers with cervical spondylosis show no symptoms at all.

How do you get rid of a cervicogenic headache?

There are numerous techniques to reduce or eliminate the pain associated with cervicogenic headaches:

1. Medicine and nerve block

Ibuprofen or aspirin, other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and other pain medicines may help to reduce the pain. Nerve blocks may provide short-term pain relief and improve your ability to benefit from physical therapy.

2. Exercises and stretches

To determine which exercise is the most beneficial and secure for you, consider consulting a medical professional or a physical therapist.

3. Spinal manipulation

It combines joint movement, physical treatment, and massage. Only a physical therapist, a chiropractor, or an osteopath should perform it.

4. Other choices and surgery

Acupuncture and relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga are examples of non-surgical treatments to manage discomfort. Although surgery is uncommon, if your CH discomfort is severe, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to prevent your nerves from being pinched.

Can c5-c6 cause headaches

The C5 and C6 vertebrae of the spine, known as the stress vertebra, support the maximum weight from the neck and head. Patients may also have crepitus, a grinding or cracking sensation in the neck when the neck joints get manipulated.

These cervical spine discs can very frequently cause headaches.

What can trigger a cervicogenic headache?

Cervicogenic headaches occur due to neck issues. A variety of illnesses can result in this pain.

These include whiplash injuries, neck disc(cervical) prolapse, and degenerative disorders like osteoarthritis. Additionally, neck injuries sustained while playing sports or falling can result in similar headaches.

Your standing or sitting posture at work may also contribute to cervicogenic headaches. Long periods spent standing or sitting in the same position might exert stress or pressure on your neck and skull base, resulting in cervicogenic headaches.

These headaches can also result from sleeping in an uncomfortable position. This headache may occur if you take a nap while sitting in a chair or bed.

Another reason for cervicogenic headaches is a pinched or compressed nerve in your neck.

How to relieve headache from pinched nerve?

You can relieve headache from pinched nerves with a variety of treatments, including:

  • Taking painkillers
  • Doing physical exercise
  • Putting on a collar
  • Using a cervical pillow
  • Using neck injection
  • Doing surgery

Usually, the last resort when all other therapies have failed is surgery.

Cervicogenic headache nhs

Neck joints and muscle pain may contribute to cervicogenic headaches. Often, they begin on one side of your neck and work their way up to your head.

90% of the population experiences headaches at some point, making them highly prevalent.

How to treat cervicogenic headache?

Numerous methods can help you manage pain and stop cervicogenic headaches. Here are some potential treatments:


Your physician can suggest oral drugs, including an edible painkiller treat these headaches. These can consist of a muscle relaxant, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, with acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve tight muscles and stop spasms.

Physical exercise

The doctor can suggest physical treatment to boost weakened neck muscles and enhance joint mobility. Alternative treatments are also helpful to ease neck muscle, joint, or nerve pain.

These include acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, spine manipulation via chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, and calming methods. Other pain management choices include using heat or ice for a maximum of 15 minutes multiple times daily.

Consider avoiding activities that make the discomfort worse, and using a neck brace while sleeping upright to prevent bending your neck forward. You may also avoid leaning your head forward.

FAQ relating to what do cervicogenic headaches feel like?

What aggravates cervicogenic headache?

Severe neck stress is frequently the root cause of cervicogenic headaches. A damaged disc, whiplash-like movement, cervical osteoarthritis (spondylosis), whiplash, or cervical nerve irritation or compression can all contribute to the headache.

What kind of doctor treats cervicogenic headaches?

A headache neurologist, neurosurgeon, physical therapist, or pain therapist can treat carvicogenic headaches. A headache neurologist can identify all the varieties of head pain that don’t respond to common headache drugs prescribed by non-headache specialists to treat headaches.

A headache specialist can advise a thorough strategy that includes both drug- and non-drug-based treatments, if necessary.

What is the first treatment of cervicogenic headache?

The primary line of treatment is physical therapy. Interventional therapy is another method for treating cervicogenic headaches, depending on the source of the pain.

An epidural steroid injection can also treat cervicogenic headaches. Your doctor can also use nerve blocks and other medicines to treat the pain.

Can anxiety cause cervicogenic headaches?

Yes, emotional stress and anxiety can cause cervicogenic headaches. Due to stress, small muscles at the neck base tighten, and this tightness can contribute to the neck becoming out of position, resulting cervicogenic headaches.

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