Cervicogenic Headaches

One of the most common complaints seen in our Boulder chiropractor office is headaches. While there are many causes for headaches, there are 4 major types: Cervicogenic Headaches, Cluster Headaches, Migraine Headaches, and Tension headaches

The most commonly seen headache in the Boulder area is a tension headaches. Tension headaches are caused by tight muscles in the back of your head that squeeze on nerves leading to headaches. You can read more about tension headaches in another blog by clicking here.

To read more about Migraine Headaches, click here.

Cervicogenic headaches are defined as head pain originating from the cervical spine, localized to the neck and occiput. The pain is precipitated or aggravated by specific neck movements or sustained postures. The pain may radiate to forehead, eye region, temples or ears.

There are two major factors that predispose you to having cervicogenic headaches:

  1. Prior trauma to your neck (car accident, sports injury, etc)

  2. Sustained neck postures or repetitive neck or shoulder motions (sitting at a desk or in a car all day, repetitive shoulder motion like swimming)


These two prior factors are very common in our society. So, most people likely to be at risk for developing these headaches.

What happens?

The pain is generated from irritation of the sensory nerves of the upper cervical spine. These sensory nerves innervate the muscles, ligaments, joint capsules, joint surfaces, and discs of the upper cervical spine. 

How do you fix it?

Identify the irritating structure. With a thorough examination we can identify irritating structures and rule out a more serious cause.

  1. Release the tight muscles in the area. Using techniques such as: Active Release Technique (ART), graston technique, class 4 warm laser therapy, or trigger point dry needling.

  2. Your Boulder Chiropractor will restore normal motion to the joints of the upper cervical spine using gentle and safe chiropractic techniques yielding neck pain relief.

  3. Examine daily life for triggers and eliminate them. If you sit all day, we need to verify that your workstation is set up appropriately. If you drive lets talk about driving posture. If you swim daily or paint houses all day we need to be sure you’re using your shoulders correctly, etc.

  4. Give you the appropriate physical therapy rehab exercises. Typically, we need to stretch your pecs and give you more thoracic mobility.

If you’re suffering from cervicogenic headaches, schedule an appointment today to get headache relief in Boulder at Boulder Sports Chiropractic.