Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Renee Mabey


Headache -- diagnosis; Headache -- etiology; Headache -- therapy


The cervical spine was first suggested as an origin for headache almost 200 years ago. Since then, the etiology of headaches arising from the cervical spine has remained controversial and confusing. Cervicogenic headache is often confused as tension or common migraine headache, therefore presenting a great diagnostic .and therapeutic challenge for the physical therapist. The clinical physical therapist must have a strong background in anatomy and biomechanics of the cervical spine in order to assess and determine the involvement of the cervical spine as a primary or secondary factor in the individual's complaint of headache. This knowledge is also necessary for effective use of mobilization techniques on the cervical spine, which have been proven effective in the treatment of cervicogenic headache.

The purpose of this independent study was to review existing literature with focus on the anatomy, biomechanics, evaluation, and effective mobilization techniques for cervicogenic headache. Structures innervated by the C1 - C3 spinal nerves are implicated as sources of noxious stimuli converging on the trigeminocervical nucleus and causing cervicogenic headache. The neuroanatomical bases of cerviocogenic headache, diagnostic criteria, evaluation strategies and appropriate mobilization techniques for relief of . cervicogenic headache are discussed in this independent study.