The real cause of
headache with neck pain

Headache with neck pain is one of the most common clinical complaints which chiropractors deal with on a daily basis and is a major public health problem. This article will explain how chiropractors approach this primary issue.

Primary headache with or without neck pain accounts for over 90% of all headaches. These headaches are not attributed to an underlying disease process that may pose a serious threat to a patient’s health. Although painful and debilitating, these headaches are benign.
Primary headaches include:

  • Tension
  • Migraine
  • Cervicogenic
  • Cluster

Secondary headaches may be associated with space occupying lesions such as tumours, subarachnoid hemorrhage, meningitis, temporal arteritis and acute glaucoma.

Most chiropractors take into account the following four factors in understanding headache and neck pain:

Cervicogenic Headache

Chiropractors use the term ‘cervicogenic headache’ or headache from cervical spine dysfunction as descriptors rather than diagnostic categories. This is important because with this perspective headache from cervical spine dysfunction includes tension and migraine headache.

Because of their specialized understanding of the function of the cervical spine, or neck, chiropractors argue that functional pathology in the structures of the spine plays a major role in this headache and neck pain relationship.

Keys to understanding headache with neck pain:



• Evidence that cervical
spine facet joints
are an important
source of pain,
limited range of
movement and muscle tension



• Recent findings
of a myodural
or connective
tissue bridge between
the pain-sensitive
brain membranes
(the dura) and
the muscles
and the spine
in the upper neck.


Headaches and neck pain are often the result of the clear physical link between movement restrictions on functional pathology in the cervical spine.



Chiropractors utilize spinal manipulation as an effective treatment for this condition, often without medication.