Cervicogenic headache: A real headache

Fabio Antonaci, Ottar Sjaastad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although theories regarding headache originating in the neck have existed for more than 150 years, the term "cervicogenic headache" originated in 1983. Early descriptions pinpoint the characteristic symptoms as dizziness, visual disturbances, tinnitus, and "posterior" headache, conceivably as a consequence of arthrosis, infliction upon the vertebral artery, or with a "migrainous" background and occurring in "advanced age." Cervicogenic headache (mean age of onset, 33 years) displays a somewhat different picture: unilateral headache, starting posteriorly, but advancing to the frontal area, most frequently the main site of pain; usually accompanied by ipsilateral arm discomfort, reduced range of motion in the neck, and mechanical precipitation of exacerbations (eg, through external pressure upon hypersensitive, occipital tendon insertions). Treatment options in treatment-resistant cases include cervical stabilization operations and extracranial electrical stimulation. In a personal, population-based study of 1,838 individuals (88.6% of the population), a prevalence of 2.2% "core" cases was found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-155
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Neurology and Neuroscience Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Cervicogenic headache
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Mechanical attack precipitation
  • Migraine
  • Unilateral headache

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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