Neck Pain and Headache: Causes & How to Prevent It

Introduction

Neck pain can be a very annoying condition and have a negative impact on day-to-day activities. Add to it a recurring headache, and your day is sure to get spoiled! Many different conditions can be the reason behind your neck pain and headache. However, while some conditions may originate as a neck issue and lead to a headache, other instances may involve a headache evoking neck pain. Through this blog, we will explore both in detail. Let’s begin!

Why does neck pain cause headaches?

Headaches that arise from a neck condition are generally chronic in nature and differ in type as per the underlying cause. Since the cervical (connected with the neck) nerves transmit pain signals, neck issues can provoke cervicogenic headaches, resulting in neck pain, stiffness, nausea, blurred vision, etc. Similarly, a pinched nerve in the neck can initiate severe headaches caused by a condition known as occipital neuralgia.

Causes of neck pain

Various factors such as neck muscle/ligament strains, injuries and neck conditions can cause neck pain. Following are the common causes of neck pain:

  • Consistent improper posture
  • Desk jobs
  • Stiffness in the neck muscles
  • Neck injuries
  • Persistent phone usage with poor neck posture
  • Inappropriate sleeping positions
  • Herniated or bulging disc
  • Pinched nerve in the neck

Types of headaches that may cause neck pain

Specific kinds of headaches can cause pain to radiate into the neck region. Here are some examples of headaches that cause neck pain:

Migraine

Migraine is basically a recurring headache that is characterised by medium to intense pain on one particular side of the head. It may also cause symptoms like nausea & sensitivity to bright light and/or loud sounds. Neck pain prior to a migraine attack or during it is pretty common. Following are a few triggers that are known to cause migraine headaches:

  • Stress
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Climate changes
  • Regularly skipping meals

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

TMJ headaches are mild aches that begin around the temple region of the head and the Temporomandibular Joint. They may sometimes be confused as ear pain. TMJ disorders that cause headaches are usually a culmination of multiple factors such as:

  • Genetics
  • Degeneration of muscles or ligaments
  • Injury to the TMJ
  • Dislocation of the TMJ
  • Muscle fatigue/weakness in the TMJ
  • Arthritis of the jaw

Neck problems that can cause headaches

Certain kinds of headaches can be the consequence of neck issues like injury, inflammation, chronic neck tension, etc.

Injury

Injury to the neck muscles or ligaments can cause cervicogenic headaches, also known as secondary headaches.

Inflammation

Inflammation of the muscles, nerves, tendons or joints can cause cervicogenic headaches.

Chronic Neck Tension

Muscle contractions in the neck area, face or scalp due to strain, stress, tiredness, etc., can cause headaches.

Treating a pinched nerve in the neck

A pinched nerve in the neck is generally treated via the following treatments:

Physical Therapy

Muscle strengthening & stretching exercises prescribed to you as per the location of the pinched nerve in your neck can help boost the strength of neck muscles, enhance the range of motion and alleviate neck pain.

Injections

Some doctors may recommend taking steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain till the time the nerve is expected to recover within.

Conclusion

Treatment for neck pain & headache differs from person to person depending on various factors like the underlying condition causing it, whether the condition is severe or mild, and current symptoms. If you are experiencing neck pain & headache and suspect a spinal disorder to be the reason behind it, then book a Free Consultation with our Spine Experts. Click here to schedule an appointment:

If your headaches start as mild pain in the neck and radiate upwards from the back of the head, then it’s likely that a neck issue is the reason behind it.

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