November 21, 2023

Absolutely, tension headaches can come from your neck (have cervicogenic origins). Cervicogenic headaches originate from issues in the cervical spine, specifically the neck and its structures, and they often share similar symptoms with tension headaches. In fact, distinguishing between tension headaches and cervicogenic headaches can sometimes be challenging due to their overlapping characteristics.

Cervicogenic headaches arise from structural problems or dysfunction in the cervical spine, such as:

Muscle Tension

Chronic muscle tension in the neck and upper back can lead to cervicogenic headaches, mimicking the characteristics of tension headaches.

Joint Dysfunction

Problems within the cervical spine’s joints, such as irritation or dysfunction of facet joints, can cause referred pain felt as a headache.

Nerve Irritation

Irritation of nerves in the neck, particularly the upper cervical nerves, can result in pain that radiates to the head, leading to cervicogenic headaches.

Given the shared symptoms and potential overlap between tension headaches and cervicogenic headaches, this evaluation may involve detailed examinations to pinpoint the source of the headache, often focusing on the neck and upper back region. Treatment approaches for cervicogenic headaches might include manual therapy, targeted exercises, postural correction, and other interventions tailored to address the underlying cervical spine issues.

A tension headache is a common type of headache characterized by mild to moderate pain that often feels like a band tightening around the head. These headaches typically cause a steady ache on both sides of the head and may last from several minutes to several days.

Key features of tension headaches include:

Pain Characteristics

The pain associated with tension headaches is often described as a constant pressure or tightness that can vary in intensity. It’s not usually accompanied by throbbing or pulsating sensations.


Tension headaches commonly affect both sides of the head. The pain may radiate from the neck and shoulders to the back of the head or to the temples.


They can last from a few hours to several days. Chronic tension headaches can persist for extended periods, occurring frequently and significantly impacting daily life.


Various factors can trigger tension headaches, including stress, poor posture, lack of sleep, eye strain, fatigue, hunger, or jaw clenching.


While tension headaches are not usually severe, they can still be bothersome and disruptive to daily activities. They don’t typically cause nausea or vomiting, unlike migraines.


Management often involves lifestyle changes, stress reduction techniques, over-the-counter pain relievers, relaxation exercises, physical therapy, or, in some cases, prescription medication.

Tension headaches are among the most common types of headaches experienced by people worldwide. While they don’t typically indicate a serious underlying condition, chronic or severe tension headaches may warrant medical evaluation to rule out other potential causes and determine the most effective treatment plan.

For effective diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management of tension headaches, book an appointment with the expert team at the Headache Neck and Jaw Clinic.