Cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache and usually presents as pain starting in the neck, radiating over the head to around the eye region. These headaches are one sided and the sufferer will usually report neck and shoulder pain and a reduction in neck function. Occasionally nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound can be reported.
Manual therapy and exercise therapy have long been the management strategies for cervicogenic headache, but what does the evidence suggest? There is strong evidence to suggest that the use of spinal manipulation, spinal mobilisation and Graston technique offer favourable results to help manage cervicogenic headache. In trials, headache frequency and intensity were reduced in both the short and long term, and there were positive short-term effects on disability.
Management of cervicogenic headache should strongly consider the use of manual therapy (with or without exercise therapy) as this intervention has found to be both safe and effective.
Bini, P. et al. (2022). The effectiveness of manual and exercise therapy on headache intensity and frequency among patients with cervicogenic headache: a systematic review and meta-analysis.