Cervicogenic Headache: Current Perspectives

Neurol India. 2021 Mar-Apr;69(Supplement):S194-S198. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.315992.


Background: Cervicogenic headache is a distinct type of headache described in 1980s by Sjaastad, a Norwegian neurologist. It is a not so uncommon headache, which is usually under-diagnosed resulting in suboptimal quality-of-life.

Objective: The aim of this study was to review the current recommendations on diagnosis and management of cervicogenic headache.

Methods and material: A PubMed search was done for the recent articles on 'cervicogenic headache' published in English literature with the aim of recognizing the current perspectives on cervicogenic headache.

Results: The diagnosis of cervicogenic headache is based on clinical criteria mentioned by the International Headache Society (IHS) and Cervicogenic Headache International Study Group (CHISG). Cervical nerve block may confirm the nociceptive source in majority of cases and is included in CHISG criteria. Non-invasive diagnostic methods like echogenicity of muscles, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and single-photon emission tomography (SPECT) are proposed by some authors for avoiding complications associated with blocks. Mainstay of management is physical therapy. Surgical interventions for cervical degenerative disease may relief an associated headache but such interventions are not performed solely for cervicogenic headache.

Conclusion: Headaches with a cervical spine nociceptive source are increasingly being recognized. Current diagnostic criteria and management options are reviewed here.

Keywords: Cervical nerve block; cervical spine disorder; chronic neck pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Headache
  • Humans
  • Post-Traumatic Headache* / diagnosis
  • Post-Traumatic Headache* / therapy