Cervicogenic headache is referred pain (pain perceived as occurring in a part of the body other than its true source) perceived in the head from a source in the neck. Cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache, which means that it is caused by another illness or physical issue. In the case of cervicogenic headache, the cause is a disorder of the cervical spine and its component bone, disc and/or soft tissue elements. Numerous pain-sensitive structures exist in the cervical (upper neck) and occipital (back of head) regions. The junction of the skull and cervical vertebrae have regions that are pain generating, including the lining of the cervical spine, the joints, ligaments, cervical nerve roots and vertebral arteries passing through the cervical vertebral bodies.
People with cervicogenic headache often have reduced range of motion of their neck and worsening of their headache with certain movements of their neck or pressure applied to certain spots on their neck. The headaches are often side-locked (on one side only), and the pain may radiate from the neck/back of the head up to the front of the head or behind the eye. The headache may or may not be associated with neck pain.