Is There a Link Between Neck Pain and Headaches?

Is There a Link Between Neck Pain and Headaches?

About 2% of the world’s population experiences chronic migraines, and many of those migraine sufferers have also been shown to experience neck pain. 

At his practice in Wilmington, Delaware, and Springfield, Pennsylvania, pain management specialist Dr. Steven Grossinger helps patients uncover the root cause of their neck pain as well as find relief from their headaches and migraines.

Obviously, there’s a connection between your neck and your head, so does neck pain cause migraines? Or do migraines cause neck pain?

Neck pain and headaches

Headaches have a variety of causes. Often, tension or other problems with the cervical spine (neck) are to blame. But migraines can also trigger neck pain. In short, it’s often difficult to know where the pain originates. Headaches can be a symptom of neck pain, and vice versa. 

Migraines as the cause

Migraines are more than nasty headaches. You can spend days in bed with this neurological disorder due to its debilitating pain. 

Other symptoms include tiredness, nausea, visual disturbances, numbness and tingling, irritability, difficulty speaking, and even temporary blindness. These can be triggered by movement, light, sound, and more.

The reason neck pain and headaches or migraines often go hand in hand is because of their connection to the occipital nerve. This nerve runs down the back of the head to the neck. The occipital nerve gives the skin at the back of your head sensation, up to the top of your head. 

In the brain, the branches of the occipital nerve meet those of the trigeminal nerve, which supplies the face.

Neck pain as the cause

If you experience neck pain or even shoulder pain, it could originate in your cervical spine. 

Cervical syndrome is a group of disorders caused by changes in your cervical spine and the soft tissue surrounding it. Pain is the primary symptom. It can cause neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, and can even extend to your arms and legs.

Muscle cramps in your neck can also play a role. Your neck muscles and the nerve cords that supply your occipital nerve are located close together. If you have neck cramps or spasms, from overexertion, for example, it can cause nerve compression, which can lead to headaches.

Often, these are the widespread tension headaches that usually spread to both sides of the temples.

Treatment for neck pain and headaches

Whether neck pain caused your headache, or a headache caused your neck pain, It’s important to find the root cause so you can receive targeted, effective treatment.

When Dr. Grossinger creates your personalized treatment plan, he first considers nonsurgical options that can relieve inflammation and block pain, including injections, nerve blocks, and physical therapy.

If you’re struggling with chronic neck pain or headaches, call the office of Steven Grossinger, DO, today, or book your appointment online.

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