Cervicogenic Headaches at Rehab Access

cervicogenic headache treatment New Orleans

The neck is an intricate area of the body, filled with nerves and muscles tasked with the vital job of keeping your head upright. Cervicogenic headaches can arise when the tension in our neck radiates up to the head causing debilitating pain. While this pain is serious, Rehab Access can help you understand how cervicogenic headaches are caused and what you can do to feel better from this literal pain in the neck.

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Symptoms of cervicogenic headaches

Mild neck pain is common for most people and usually arises from overuse or strain. Untreated, this type of neck pain will last only a few days. Severe or chronic neck pain is something that should be checked out by a medical professional. If your pain lasts continuously for weeks or is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, then it would be a good idea to seek help:

  • Muscle tightness in the neck that can spread to the shoulders
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion in the head and neck
  • Pain that lasts for long periods of time without subsiding
  • Increase in pain while tilting the head forward
  • Numbness or tingling in the head, neck or shoulders

Causes of cervicogenic headaches

The vast majority of people will experience minor neck pain at some point in their lives. Even something as minor as an awkward sleeping position can give you an uncomfortable crick in your neck. However, cervicogenic headaches are a chronic condition that can be caused by the following factors:

  • Sudden traumatic injury, such as whiplash suffered during an auto accident
  • Arthritis, which can degrade the cartilage in your neck causing loss of mobility
  • Sports injuries or lifting heavy objects with improper techniques
  • Compression of the nerves in the neck

However, the most common cause of cervicogenic headaches is poor posture that puts the head in a forward position out in front of the body. Any desk job where a person is sitting in front of a computer screen often has this forward head position for hours at a time, putting immense strain on those neck muscles. Other jobs, such as hair stylists or long-haul truckers, can experience this pain, as well.


The natural curves in a normal spine resemble an ‘S’ shape when viewed from the side. A healthy neck has a slight backward curve. Those suffering from cervicogenic headaches will often find that the curve in their neck has shifted forward. Your doctor may take an X-ray or an MRI scan to see inside your body and view the curves of your spine.

Physical therapists use a simple test to see if you have this forward head posture. Begin by standing with your back to a wall. Stand up tall with your normal posture and see how far away your head is from touching the wall. If your head is far from the wall, you likely experience cervicogenic headaches with this forward head position. This position put enormous strain on the muscles and nerves in the neck. Over a long period of time, these muscles in your neck physically move the alignment of the vertebrae in your neck forward.


There are a wide variety of treatments available to patients to treat their cervicogenic headaches, including:

  • Massage therapy — Massage therapy works to reduce tension in the muscles and increase blood flow to the area to promote a healing response and help relieve pain.
  • Chiropractic adjustment — A chiropractor is trained to make specific adjustments to the spine. Repeated adjustments can begin to move the vertebrae in the neck back to a normal and healthy posture.
  • Dry needling and trigger point therapy — While these are two different treatments, they both work with the similar goal of eliciting a twitch response in the pain point to trigger a relaxation of the muscle with specific pressure.
  • Physical therapy — There are many exercises that can be prescribed as part of a treatment plan to strengthen the muscles in the neck and to increase your range of motion.

Scheduling your appointment with Rehab Access

The physical therapists of Rehab Access are experts in dealing with cervicogenic headaches. As many of these headaches arise from issues with neck movements and posture, physical therapy is an option that can help people regain a quality of life and to reduce their pain and improve their posture.

We strive to make our services as convenient and flexible as possible. With multiple locations across the New Orleans region (Metairie, Belle Chasse, and Gretna), extended hours during the week, and same-day appointments available, we are dedicated to making sure you receive the care you deserve.

Book Your Personal Consultation  Call Us: 504-370-1733