Cervicogenic headache (CGH) occurs when pain is derived from a specific source in the neck to the head. This pain is usually a constant or dull pain. A cervicogenic headache is a pain that develops in the neck, although a person feels the pain in the head. Secondary headaches are those caused by an underlying condition, such as neck injuries, infections, or severe high blood pressure.
This differentiates them from primary headaches, such as migraines and cluster headaches. Cervicogenic headache describes pain referred to the head from a source in the cervical spine, 1 The diagnosis of this disorder is controversial. Some authorities believe that clinical criteria alone are sufficient, while others, including the International Headache Society, require confirmatory tests to establish the diagnosis.1 A multidisciplinary approach is often required to adequately manage this disorder. A complete history and physical examination of the neck and occipital region along with appropriate diagnostic tests can help provide an accurate diagnosis of the pain generator (s).
Cervicogenic headaches can simulate migraines, so it can be difficult to distinguish a cervicogenic headache from a migraine headache. The main difference is that a migraine headache is rooted in the brain and a cervicogenic headache originates in the cervical spine (neck) or the base of the skull region. A cervicogenic headache is a pain that is felt in the head, although it originates in the neck. It is a secondary headache because it is a symptom of an underlying problem, such as a neck disease or injury.
In its critical review of the literature, the Neck Pain Working Group (NPTF) proposed that the QTF classification system be adapted to classify neck pain of any etiology, including non-traumatic cervicalgia.