Cervicogenic Headache

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Cervicogenic Headache2019-08-26T14:10:16-05:00

Cervicogenic Headaches

In the US, there are billions of dollars spent on healthcare services related to headache treatments each year. For those who suffer from frequent, severe headaches, over half of all patients that seek treatment have suffered from some type of whiplash incident that has affected the cervical spine area and the component bone, disc or soft tissue areas. 

Cervicogenic headaches are typically located in the upper cervical facet joints and they can cause extreme pain that isn’t relieved with common OTC medications. Those who suffer from these types of headaches often report similar symptoms, including:

  • A history of neck pain or injury to the neck muscles
  • Pain that radiates from the shoulders down to the arms
  • Neck pain that eventually travels to the frontal and temporal lobes
  • An increase in pain caused by neck movement

How Physical Therapy Can Help

For patients who suffer from unilateral headaches on one side of the head that are associated with neck movement and pain and joint tenderness in the upper cervical joints, physical therapy is typically recommended as the first line of treatment. Studies have shown that primary care management, medication and exercise alone are not as beneficial as the combination of manual therapy and therapeutic exercises for patients who suffer from cervicogenic headaches. Not only do patients report reduced pain and inflammation immediately following a treatment program that includes physical therapy, but many patients continue to report a long-term reduction in headache frequency. 

To treat cervicogenic headaches, physical therapists take a specialized approach that looks at your overall health and pain levels. After completing a full evaluation of your condition, the licensed physical therapists at Total Motion will develop a program of manual therapy and exercise that is designed to reduce your pain levels, decrease headache frequency and restore your full range of motion.

The common techniques used to relieve cervicogenic headaches include thrust and non-thrust mobilization of the cervical and thoracic spine, and low endurance exercises that include the upper quarter musculature area. These types of specialized exercises, when combined with manual physical therapy treatments, can dramatically improve your overall health and help you get back to your life.


Evidence: Oxford Evidence Grade = A (level 1A studies)cervicogenic-headache-2-web

Over the course of one year, Manual Physical Therapy & Exercise management ($400) is only 1/3 the cost of standard physical therapy ($1,200) and primary care management ($1,300).

Primary care management (PCM), medication, modalities, exercise alone and manual therapy are not as beneficial as the combination of manual physical therapy and exercise, in patients with or without headaches. A clinically important decrease in pain occurred in 30% of patients treated with manual therapy and exercise, than would have occurred receiving an alternative treatment approach.

Of those patients treated with manual physical therapy and exercise, 10% experience a total reduction in headache frequency than would have receiving an alternative treatment approach. At one year, the benefits of manual therapy and exercise are evident. Additionally at two years, more patients remain satisfied with their care as opposed to alternative treatment approaches.

Contact Total Motion Today

If you’ve been suffering from cervicogenic headaches and haven’t been able to find relief, contact Total Motion for an evaluation. Our specialized doctors of physical therapy will take a look at your current health, evaluate the frequency, pain and location of your headaches and develop a treatment plan that is tailored specifically to your needs. You don’t have to suffer from the debilitating symptoms of cervicogenic headaches – contact us today to restore your total function for a total life. Remember a referral may not necessary.


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