Headache Type and Neck Mobility

Cervicogenic headache has been receiving considerable attention in the literature the last few years. A new study from Norway provides some new information that can aid clinicians in diagnosing cervicogenic headache and differentiating it from other types of headache.

The study compared 90 headache patients to 51 control subjects in regard to neck range of motion. The headache patients were further divided into three groups by headache type: migraine (28), tension-type (34), and cervicogenic (28). Each test subject was given a thorough range of motion examination.

When the controls, migraine patients, and the tension-type patients were compared, the author found no significant difference in ROM between any of the groups; the cervicogenic patients, however, showed significantly lower ROM in flexion/extension and rotation. There was no difference in lateral flexion.

On average, the cervicogenic headache patients showed an approximately 13% reduction in rotation and a 17% reduction in flexion/extension. "The present findings indicate that there are pathophysiological differences between [cervicogenic headache], [tension headache], and [migraine].

The study concludes by stating that a careful examination of ROM is critical in confirming a diagnosis of cervicogenic headache.

Zwart JA. Neck mobility in different headache disorders. Headache 1997;37:6-11.