8 Feb 2018 4:06 PM -

Cervicogenic headaches is a term given to headaches that arise from the upper part of the cervical spine (neck). The joints, soft tissues - including ligaments, muscles and fascia in the region of the upper 3 cervical segments and the occiput (back of the skull) can trigger headaches if they become dysfunctional or overloaded.

Dysfunction can arise from an injury such as a whiplash or other soft tissue strain, or in some cases, from an overload of the upper cervical segments especially if the joints are arthritic and tend not to handle increased load very well.

Clinically we are seeing more and more people present with headaches typically from poor posture and stresses from prolonged computer use (with poor ergonomics), smartphone, tablet and laptop use.

Some good tips to avoid this are:

Ensure that you have an ergonomic assessment of your workstation if you use computers at work.
If you don't have access to an ergonomic assessment the general tips below can hopefully be of help.
The top of the monitor/screen should be roughly at eye level and an arms length away.
Feet should be well supported with hips and knees roughly at 90 degrees.
Chair base should be level to a slight recline up to 10 deg to allow an upright back position - preventing a "poke chin" or forward head posture.
Consider using a sit to stand desk if one is available to allow you to regularly change your postures.
Take regular breaks to change your position throughout the day.

It is important to have your headaches checked by an appropriate health professional to ensure that there aren't other serious causes for them.

By Matt Walls

Principal Physiotherapist