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Cervicogenic Headaches
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When: Thursday, November 17, 2016
Where: Long Beach Memorial Hospital
Van Dyke Forum
United States
Presenter: Erica Sigman, PT, DPT, OCS
Contact: Melissa Brose

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Course Description

Cervicogenic headache (CGH) is a syndrome in which pain originates in the cervical spine but is experienced in the head and/or face. The diagnosis of CGH is fairly controversial amongst healthcare professionals, perhaps in part because the diagnostic process can be a challenge. One reason behind the difficulty is the overlap in clinical features between CGH and migraine headache.1 The prevalence of neck pain amongst persons with migraines can be as high as 75%, making a cervical origin of the pain a distinct possibility. While the prevalence of migraine and tension type headaches are higher in the general population compared to CGH, the prevalence of CGH can be upwards of 53% in patients with headache after whiplash and 20% of patients with chronic headache. ²³Since pain from the joints and muscles of the upper cervical spine can be referred to the head, physical therapists play a critical role in the diagnosis and treatment of these patients. This presentation will provide the most recent evidence related to the diagnosis, evaluation, management and prognosis of patients with cervicogenic headache. The differential diagnosis of other headache disorders will be emphasized, and medical as well as physical therapy management will be discussed.



At the end of this presentation, the participant will be able to:
1. Identify the difference between primary and secondary type headaches.
2. Identify the diagnostic criteria for: migraine headache, tension type
headache, occipital neuralgia, and CGH.
3. List common musculoskeletal impairments present in CGH.
4. Discuss physical therapy treatment of common headache disorders.
5. Identify the need for referral to other healthcare disciplines.


1. Becker WJ. Cervicogenic Headache: Evidence That the Neck is a Pain Generator. Headache. 2010;4:699-705.
2. Biondi DM. Cervicogenic Headache: A Review of Diagnostic and Treatment Strategies. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2005;105(4):16-22.
3. Bogduk N, Govind J. Cervicogenic headache: an assessment of the evidence on clinical diagnosis, invasive tests, and treatment. Lancet Neurol.2009;8:959-968.



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