Cervicogenic headache: clinical presentation, diagnostic criteria, and differential diagnosis

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2001 Aug;5(4):387-92. doi: 10.1007/s11916-001-0030-1.


Since the first attempt at setting down diagnostic criteria was made in 1990, there has been considerable progress in the field of cervicogenic headache (CEH). CEH makes up a "final common pathway" for several neck disorders that may originate at different levels of the cervical spine. CEH has been defined as being mainly a unilateral headache without sideshift; it may accordingly also be bilateral. Anesthetic blockades are mandatory for scientific work. If the pain is bilateral, it is particularly important that blockades are carried out. Pain stemming from the neck usually spreads to the oculofrontotemporal area. The most characteristic features are symptoms and signs of neck involvement (such as mechanical precipitation of attack, and so forth). Migraine without aura and tension-type headache are the most difficult differential diagnosis problems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Headache Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Headache Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Humans