Cervicogenic Headache vs Migraines – Veterans Benefits and Ratings

When you suffer from severe headaches as a veteran, you might not know whether it is a cervicogenic headache or a migraine. Moreover, the question of VA disability ratings also arises as you may be wondering whether you are going to get the same rating for both conditions. 

This article will discuss the differences between migraines and cervicogenic headaches. Then, we will go through the VA disability benefits for both conditions. 

Cervicogenic Headaches 

“Cervicogenic” means pain that originates from the neck, and therefore, this type of headache is caused by moving your neck or keeping your neck in the same position for a long time. 

Similar to migraines, cervicogenic headaches cause intense pain. However, it does not cause throbbing pain; instead, the pain tends to stay in one spot. You may feel pain on the entire side of your face.

Cervicogenic headaches are caused by the wearing of the cervical spine, which can happen through prolonged postures and injury through trauma. 

These are the symptoms of cervicogenic headaches –

  • Nausea
  • Pain in the neck, arm, or shoulder
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain around the eyes


Migraines are headaches that cause throbbing pain on one or more sides of your head, making you sensitive to light and sound and, in some circumstances, causing nausea and vomiting.

Studies suggest that one in every fifteen men suffers from migraines, and the number is even higher for the opposite gender, as one in every five women can be affected by this condition.

While it is unknown what causes migraines, this illness is caused by irregular processes in your brain that might be triggered by something. Hormonal, physical, emotional, environmental, or nutritional factors can trigger migraines.

For example, stress and worry in the military might cause migraines.

Here are the symptoms of migraines –

  • Pain on one side of the head 
  • Mood changes
  • Neck stiffness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Bloating
  • Tunnel vision
  • Ears ringing
  • Muscle pain

Cervicogenic Headache vs Migraines

Some symptoms of cervicogenic headaches and migraines overlap, so it can be hard to differentiate between them. Here are the primary differences between these two conditions –

Cervicogenic HeadacheMigraines
Cervicogenic headache does not have an aura, which is a visual disturbance that informs you about an incoming headache.Migraines, on the other hand, can have an aura.
The stiffness of the neck joint and muscle and tissue tightness causes this condition.There could be many causes for migraines, including loud noises, food, lack of sleep, etc.
Limited range of motion when turning your head.While migraines do not cause a limited range of motion, there could be neck stiffness.
These types of headaches are treated with physical therapy.Migraines can be treated by identifying and preventing triggers.

Is There a Rating Difference between Migraines and Cervicogenic Headaches?

There are no rating differences between cervicogenic headaches and migraines when it comes to getting your disability benefits. Similar to migraines, you can get up to a 50% disability rating from the VA for cervicogenic headaches.

The term “prostrating” is important for getting a disability rating for both of these conditions. By this term, the VA is referring to the breaking down in activity due to the severity of the pain. 

Is Military Neck Considered a Disability for Veterans?

Military neck causes and treatment are important aspects for veterans facing potential disability. Military neck, also known as cervical kyphosis, refers to an abnormal curvature of the neck that can result from various factors. Veterans experiencing this condition may face challenges in their daily lives, particularly if it impedes their ability to perform their duties. Proper diagnosis, treatment, and potentially seeking disability benefits can help veterans manage and cope with military neck.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, you now have a decent idea about the difference between migraines and cervicogenic headaches. As both of these conditions can be hard to measure in terms of severity, it’s essential to build a strong claim to get your disability benefits. This will ensure that you get the best possible disability rating. To get help, consider contacting professionals such as the ones at VA Disability Coach.