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Cervicogenic Headaches Underlying Triggers


Cervicogenic headaches can be easily confused with migraine headaches. They can have various underlying triggers/causes that require different treatment approaches for pain management and recovery.

  • These types of headaches are related to excessive neck stress
  • It could be the result of cervical osteoarthritis (spondylosis)
  • Damaged disc/s
  • Injury
  • Whiplash
  • Type of movement that irritates or compresses a cervical nerve


A cervicogenic headache is regarded as a secondary headache brought on by an underlying trigger. They start in the neck and back of the head. Individuals usually describe the feeling primarily as muscle tension. This tension causes pain in the back of the skull that radiates/spreads up and outward to the front of the head. It is common for individuals only to notice the headache pain and not realize the underlying trigger in the neck. Symptoms associated with this type of headache include:

  • Stiffness in the neck limits movement
  • Neck pain presents by certain movements or positioning
  • Tenderness in the shoulders, neck, and back of the skull
  • Pain around the eyes, neck
  • Pain on one side of the head
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light
11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 Cervicogenic Headaches Underlying Triggers


A common underlying trigger is a structural problem with the cervical spine/neck. This can cause:

  • Poor nerve flow
  • Muscle imbalances
  • Connective tissue strain
  • All can generate upper neck stiffness

Structural issues can come from:

  • A previous neck injury
  • Work occupation that strains the neck and back
  • Prolonged sitting, combined with poor posture work
  • Manual labor
  • Hairstylists
  • Automobile accidents and sports injuries causing whiplash are the primary causes of this pain.
11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 Cervicogenic Headaches Underlying Triggers

Getting Chiropractic Treatment

A typical treatment from traditional medicine is pain medication/s. However, this will not alleviate the underlying neck issues that are causing the pain that can lead to chronic pain. Restoring the alignment of the cervical spine is essential to bring back balance and optimal nerve health to the entire body. This will reduce symptoms and increase long-term healing. A highly recommended treatment option for spinal re-alignment is chiropractic care. Chiropractors are expertly trained to use science-based treatment techniques that are highly effective and bring positive results. Individuals can recover and be educated on how to manage headaches/pain. As spinal alignment is achieved, a chiropractor will make recommendations on natural pain management, stretching, exercise, posture, diet, and more.

Body Composition

Lean Body Mass vs. Muscle Mass

Lean Body Mass, also known as lean mass, is the body’s total weight minus all the weight due to fat mass.

Lean Body Mass LBM = Total Weight – Fat Mass

Lean Body Mass includes the weight of the:

  • Bones
  • Skin
  • Organs
  • Body Water
  • Muscle Mass

Lean Body Mass correctly describes the body’s entire weight minus the fat. Because Lean Body Mass comprises many areas, any change in weight can be recorded as changes in Lean Body Mass. Remember that the weight of the organs will not change significantly. Bone density decreases over time, but it will not significantly affect the weight of Lean Body Mass. Two major areas to focus on are body water and muscle mass. When discussing gaining muscle by consuming more protein or muscle-building exercises/workouts, they are talking about gaining or building Skeletal Muscle Mass. The three major muscle types include:

  • Cardiac
  • Smooth
  • Skeletal muscle mass is the only type of muscle that can actively grow and develop through exercise and nutrition.

Fredriksen, Torbjørn A et al. “Cervicogenic headache: too important to be left un-diagnosed.” The journal of headache and pain vol. 16 (2015): 6. doi:10.1186/1129-2377-16-6

Chaibi, Aleksander, and Michael Bjørn Russell. “Manual therapies for cervicogenic headache: a systematic review.” The journal of headache and pain vol. 13,5 (2012): 351-9. doi:10.1007/s10194-012-0436-7

Rubio-Ochoa, J et al. “Physical examination tests for screening and diagnosis of cervicogenic headache: A systematic review.” Manual therapy vol. 21 (2016): 35-40. doi:10.1016/j.math.2015.09.008

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Cervicogenic Headaches Underlying Triggers" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
License Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*
Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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