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TLC Osteopaths In Hamilton Treat Cervicogenic Headaches


Cervicogenic headaches (CH) pose a unique challenge for both patients and healthcare professionals. While their exact cause is unclear, it is generally accepted that CH arise from underlying structural disorders in the neck area, most often muscle tension, but also ligament sprains/strains, misalignment of the vertebrae, herniated discs, or joint problems. These can be exacerbated by stress, diet, poor sleep and poor posture. Our Osteopaths in Hamilton treat cervicogenic headaches by discussing all these factors with you and tailoring a treatment that suits your unique problem.

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Examples of where CH can originate

Our Osteopaths in Hamilton Treatment:

Physical Therapy:

Physical therapy plays a vital role in treating cervicogenic headaches. Specialized exercises are designed to strengthen affected muscles, while stretches help relieve tightness in the neck area.

Hands on Care:

Manual therapies, including osteopathy offered at TLC, have garnered attention for their benefits in treating cervicogenic headaches. Osteopathy focuses on gentle manipulation techniques to restore balance and mobility in the musculoskeletal system. This approach helps reduce pressure on sensitive structures, offering relief to headache sufferers. Our osteopaths are very good at identifying the muscles and other tissues that contribute to your headache, we then aim to ease the tension within the muscle and show you ways of doing this yourself at home.

Stress Management Techniques:

Stress is known to exacerbate headaches in general, including cervicogenic headaches. Our Hamilton osteopaths teach relaxation breathing exercises and other stress management techniques that can assist in reducing headache frequency and severity.

Medications and supplements:

We quite routinely encourage the use of supplements such as zinc magnesium and B vitamins, amongst others, for the management of CA.

In some cases, we may suggest you seek out anticonvulsants and antidepressants as these have shown promise in reducing pain intensity and improving overall well-being for those affected by CH. However, we tend to avoid a medication approach until other efforts have failed. Most cases of cervicogenic headache can be managed with treatment and lifestyle support.


Applying heat or cold to the affected area can provide temporary relief from cervicogenic headaches. Cold packs may help reduce inflammation, while heat applications relax tense muscles, helping to ease headache symptoms. We also have ‘pain patches’ in our Hamilton osteopath clinic. When applied to the affected muscle these patches are shown to reduce muscle tension which aids in managing headache.

The Role of Acupuncture in Cervicogenic Headache Relief:

This section should probably be a blog all on its own. But in summary, Acupuncture, an ancient therapeutic technique rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine and now western based science, has gained recognition for its potential to alleviate many forms of headache. Stimulating specific acupuncture points has been found to release endorphins and serotonin, naturally improving mood and reducing pain-causing inflammation in some instances. Additionally, studies suggest that acupuncture may help reduce muscle tension around sensitive areas between neck vertebrae, potentially further reducing cervicogenic headache pain.

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Electroacupuncture for head ache

Dry needling, a technique commonly used in acupuncture, has been a subject of interest in recent research on cervicogenic headaches. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 11 randomized clinical trials revealed that dry needling showed similar effects to other interventions for short-term headache pain relief in patients with cervicogenic headaches. Additionally, dry needling demonstrated positive effects on headache frequency, health-related quality of life, trigger point tenderness, and cervical range of motion.

Final Thoughts

Cervicogenic headaches are complex, and their precise triggers can be tricky to find. However, with a comprehensive and individualized assessment and treatment approach we can get a positive result. Our Osteopaths in Hamilton use physical therapy, osteopathy, stress management techniques, and acupuncture-based interventions like dry needling in managing CH.

Darryl Jenkins is a friendly Osteopath in Hamilton and co-owner of TLC Osteopaths. His qualifications include a undergraduate certificate in Exercise science from Wintec, a degree in Human Biology from Unitec, and a master's degree in osteopathy from Unitec, where he also completed his thesis on human movement assessment. He also holds a postgraduate certificate in acupuncture from AUT which means he practices osteopathy and acupuncture. He would like to be pursuing the postgraduate certificate in Pain Science at Otago Uni (awaiting spouse approval).

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