Cervicogenic/Tension Headaches

Physical Therapists are well trained to treat headaches that originate in the neck or are made worse by neck tension. Common causes of cervical headaches are whiplash injuries, falls, arthritis, stiffness, stress, and tension. If you have stiffness in your neck, muscle spasms or tightness in your neck muscles associated with headaches, physical therapy should be able to help.

Manual Therapy

  • Sub-Occipital Release (Inhibitive Distraction, Manual Stretching)
  • Cervical Retraction Glides/Manual Traction
  • Sub-Cranial, Mid-Cervical, Upper-Mid Thoracic Joint Mobilization/Manipulation. These are specific localized techniques designed to increase joint mobility where stiffness is present.
  • Soft Tissue Mobilization/Myofascial Release to Cervical Paraspinals, Upper Trapezius, Levator Scapulae, Scalenes, Sub-Occipitals

Postural Education and Training

  • Stretching Anterior Chest Wall/Neck Musculature (Pectoralis Major/Minor, Sternocleidomastoid)
  • Strengthening Posterior Musculature (Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, Posterior Deltoid, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Lower Trapezius)

Deep Cervical Neck Flexor Strengthening
Studies show that decreased strength and motor control in this area can contribute to headaches and cervical dysfunction.

Stress Management/Release

  • Breathing Strategies
  • Ergonomic Education
  • Neck Stretches-Upper Trapezius,Levator Scapulae, Sternocleidomastoid

Modalities For Neck Pain Relief and Muscle Extensibility

  • Deep Heat via Ultrasound
  • Moist Heat
  • Ice Packs/Ice Massage over sub-occipitals
  • Electrical Stimulation (Interferential, TENS)
  • Mechanical Traction/Decompression (Precise gradual constant or intermittent force)


  • Vertebral Artery
  • Odontoid Fracture/Transverse Ligament Rupture (Trauma)

All patients are thoroughly evaluated on their first visit to determine the extent of their cervical dysfunction. Appropriate manual therapy will be performed as well as an individualized home exercise program to meet their needs. We will begin all exercises and manual therapy lightly and progress to patient’s tolerance. Treatment frequency and duration is typically 2-3x/week for 4-6 weeks.