Cervicogenic headache. The differentiation from common migraine. An overview

Funct Neurol. 1991 Apr-Jun;6(2):93-100.


Common migraine and cervicogenic headache have many traits in common, so many that they may be mixed up. Both are unilateral headaches with a female preponderance. However, as for a number of variables, they differ. This first and foremost has to do with factors concerning the neck. In cervicogenic headache, the following symptoms and signs are present: a reduced range of motion in the neck; mechanical precipitation of attack, either by neck movements or by external pressure over the greater occipital nerve of the C2 root; ipsilateral shoulder/arm pain; unilaterality without side-shift. Similar findings are usually not made in common migraine. Typical migraine symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and phonophobia also occur in cervicogenic headache, but less frequently and to a lesser degree. Operative procedures directed to occipital/nuchal structures may afford decisive differentiation between the two disorders. In our estimation, cervicogenic headache and common migraine are two distinct disorders, with their own clinical patterns, pathogenesis, treatment - and, in all probability, also prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brachial Plexus Neuritis / physiopathology
  • Brachial Plexus Neuritis / therapy
  • Cervical Vertebrae / innervation*
  • Cranial Nerves / physiopathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Headache / physiopathology*
  • Headache / therapy
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy
  • Neck Muscles / innervation*
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / physiopathology