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Managing Cervicogenic Headaches with Chiropractic Care

Published Date: 
July 3, 2023
a man is suffering from a cervicogenic headache.

Cervicogenic headaches are related to the health of your neck. They’re similar to other severe types of headaches, including migraine headaches. However, the cause is not the same. If you’re experiencing symptoms that could be related to cervicogenic headaches or you suspect you’re suffering from migraine headaches but you haven’t experienced relief with migraine treatments, chiropractic care can help.

Living with Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches interfere with everyday life. They cause pain, as well as stiffness in the neck. They occur because of neck and spine injuries or because someone develops osteoarthritis in the neck.

Many people say that this type of headache mimics a migraine. For some people, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two. They might seek treatment for migraines when, in fact, it’s a cervicogenic headache they should be treating.

Young woman with cervicogenic headache lying on couch with hand on forehead.

The difference between the two is that a migraine comes from the brain, and a cervicogenic headache comes from the neck or base of the skull. But if you haven’t experienced both types of headaches, it might be impossible to tell which is which. Even people who’ve had migraines and experienced headaches caused by neck problems might not always realize which type of headache they’re dealing with.


There are a few things that could lead to cervicogenic headaches. Regardless of the specific reason, the problem is always related to the neck. 

Causes of cervicogenic headaches include:

If you’re experiencing cervicogenic headaches due to osteoarthritis, you’ll want to work long-term to manage your bone and joint health. 

If the cause of your headaches is related to an injury, in many cases, time will heal the injury, and you’ll begin to feel better. Chiropractic care can support the body’s natural healing process. 

If your lifestyle is triggering your headaches, your chiropractor can help you learn the best posture practices that will reduce your headaches and improve overall health.


Symptoms of a cervicogenic headache include:

  • Throbbing pain
  • Pain on one side of the face
  • Pain around the eyes
  • Stiff neck
  • Pain when sneezing or coughing
  • Pain triggered by certain movements or postures

Traditional migraine symptoms might also occur with a cervicogenic headache, including:

Treating Cervicogenic Headaches with Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is one of the most effective ways to treat cervicogenic headaches. This is because of all the good chiropractic care does for the neck and spine.

Treatments a chiropractor might use when treating this type of headache include:

Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation is one of the main treatments a chiropractor uses to help patients. It’s especially effective for managing cervicogenic headache pain. 

Additionally, your chiropractor will work with you to perform deep neck flexor exercises. 

Soft Tissue Therapy

Massage and other soft tissue therapy are great for soothing your muscles and decreasing pressure in your neck and head. Massage releases adhesions in the fascial connections that restrict normal movement in the neck and shoulders. 

Myofascial stretching is also a great tool chiropractors can use during appointments. They’ll also explain how to perform certain stretches at home to enhance the effects of the in-office treatments. These stretches engage the upper back and chest muscles and help you relieve muscle tension. 

Physical Therapy

Chiropractors also recommend physical therapy to strengthen weak neck muscles and improve joint mobility. 

In addition to the above-listed therapies, your chiropractor might also recommend the following:

  • Using a neck brace when sleeping
  • Sleeping upright to prevent neck bending
  • Heat and ice treatment 
  • Avoiding activities and positions that worsen the pain
  • Practice good posture at all times
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Dry needling

Benefits of Utilizing Chiropractic Care to Manage Headaches

Chiropractic care to manage the pain from cervicogenic and other headaches is one of the best ways to deal with the pain and prevent future bouts of the problem. 

For example:

  • Chiropractic care is natural. You don’t need to mask your symptoms with medication.
  • Chiropractic care gets to the root of the problem and fixes it. You aren’t just troubleshooting.
  • Chiropractic care reduces how often you experience headaches and other issues. You’ll be armed with the tools to improve your health and well-being.

Chiropractors work with patients to assess, diagnose, and alleviate the root cause of a problem causing pain. 

All too often, when you’re experiencing pain, especially when it’s chronic, your doctor will recommend medication to mask the symptoms. In other cases, you might be told that surgery is your only option.

While there might be times when surgery and other invasive, risky treatments are the only way, more often than not, this isn’t the case. You can usually do things that range from chiropractic care to lifestyle changes that fix the true problem. In addition to alleviating the pain, you’ll repair your body and enjoy better overall health. 

Sometimes, people experience immediate pain relief when they see a chiropractor. This is often the case when dealing with frequent headaches. However, it might take time to alleviate the problem completely. Chiropractic care can be used in conjunction with other pain relief techniques, but you’ll gradually notice less and less of a need for riskier pain treatment options.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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