Cervicogenic headache: anatomic basis and pathophysiologic mechanisms

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2001 Aug;5(4):382-6. doi: 10.1007/s11916-001-0029-7.


Cervicogenic headache is pain perceived in the head but referred from a primary source in the cervical spine. The physiologic basis for this pain is convergence between trigeminal afferents and afferents from the upper three cervical spinal nerves. The possible sources of cervicogenic headache lie in the structures innervated by the C1 to C3 spinal nerves, and include the upper cervical synovial joints, the upper cervical muscles, the C2-3 disc, the vertebral and internal carotid arteries, and the dura mater of the upper spinal cord and posterior cranial fossa. Experiments in normal volunteers have established that the cervical muscles and joints can be sources of headache.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiopathology
  • Headache Disorders / pathology*
  • Headache Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Neck Muscles / pathology
  • Neck Muscles / physiopathology
  • Spinal Nerves / pathology
  • Spinal Nerves / physiopathology