Are headaches and neck pain related?

Neck pain is often associated with several different types of headaches. In some cases, neck pain causes headaches. In others, muscles located at the base of the skull and upper neck contribute to headache. In addition, neck pain can sometimes be a symptom of certain types of headaches.

Headaches with neck pain can make you feel miserable. But not all of them are the same. Sometimes neck problems are what inspires a throbbing head, or it may be that the headache has another cause that leads to neck problems. A cervicogenic headache is a pain that develops in the neck and a person palpates the head.

The cause of a cervicogenic headache is often related to excessive strain on the neck. Headache can result from cervical osteoarthritis (spondylosis), a damaged disc, or a whiplash-like movement that irritates or compresses a cervical nerve. The bone structures of the neck (for example, facet joints) and its soft tissues (for example, muscles) can contribute to the development of a cervicogenic headache. It is estimated that up to 80 percent of adults experience this type of neck pain and headaches in the back of the head.

Usually, people who have cervicogenic headaches experience a headache accompanied by pain and stiffness in the neck. But does neck pain cause headaches, or does headache and shoulder pain cause your neck to hurt? Sometimes, the causes of these aches and pains aren't specific, but conditions such as tension headaches can connect all three symptoms. Some conditions may start as a problem in the neck and then send symptoms to the head, while other conditions start in the head and send pain all the way to the neck. While “computer hunch” isn't a medical term, the pain you may feel in your neck and shoulders does have a scientific basis.

Similarly, workers who were seated for more than 95 percent of their working time had twice the risk of suffering neck pain than workers who almost never sat. Neck pain as a result of trauma to the base of the skull (such as from car accidents or sports) should be considered an emergency and treated promptly. They can help relieve pain as you discover the cause of the pain and take steps to prevent it in the future. Neck pain alone is quite difficult, especially if it involves stiff neck and reduced mobility of the head.

More recent studies have shown that many people who suffer from migraines also experience neck pain. Many people report that neck pain starts before a migraine, although for many, this precursor also lasts until the migraine attack. Chances are, if you have an office job, you've suffered from a “computer hunch,” that pain in your neck and shoulders that can come from sitting too long at your computer. A health professional may recommend prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers to relieve painful or uncomfortable symptoms.

Austin Carrahan
Austin Carrahan

Avid coffee lover. Award-winning food fanatic. Passionate tv ninja. Amateur web junkie. Subtly charming pop culture maven.

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