Can Neck Pain Cause Chronic Headaches?

Can Neck Pain Cause Chronic Headaches?

The neck is responsible for supporting the head, providing blood flow, and protecting the nerves that feed into the brain. When a part of the neck becomes inflamed and painful, it can lead to numerous symptoms, including headaches. A specialist can help determine whether your chronic neck pain is connected to your headaches or migraines and discuss solutions that might alleviate both. 

At Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine in Ramsey, New Jersey, we can help you figure out if there is a connection between your headaches and neck pain and create a customized treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms.   

The link between neck pain and headaches 

Given their close proximity and connections, it’s easy to see why neck pain can induce headaches. Likewise, headaches can also cause neck pain, making it difficult to determine which is the real issue. However, if your headaches tend to occur during/after periods of neck pain or stiffness, it’s likely that your neck is the originating problem. 

There are two common causes of headaches stemming from the neck: cervicogenic headache (CGH) and occipital neuralgia. 

Cervicogenic headaches

If your headaches are dull, non-throbbing, and centered around the base of the skull, there is a good chance that it’s a cervicogenic headache. These typically only affect one side, causing radiating pain throughout the scalp and the rest of the head. Such headaches are caused by a disorder of the muscles, nerves, discs, or bones in the cervical spine. CGHs are often mistaken for tension headaches, which can also be caused by inflammation of the neck. 

Occipital neuralgia

If your pain is sharper, shocking, and more intense than a dull ache, you might be experiencing occipital neuralgia. This occurs when the occipital nerves, which begin in the neck and branch outward, become inflamed and begin sending pain signals throughout the scalp. Neuralgia is commonly caused by pinched or compressed nerves, disc disease, and arthritis. 

Solutions for neck pain 

Though mild and occasional neck pain and headaches can be treated using over-the-counter medications like painkillers and anti-inflammatories, persistent or severe pain should be taken to a doctor. 

At Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine, our team of specialists can help determine what’s causing your neck pain and whether your headaches are connected. From there, we can build a treatment plan suited to your needs.

This plan may include physical therapy, prescription medications, injections, or a combination of various therapies designed to relieve your pain by addressing its root cause. 

Struggling with head and neck pain? Schedule a consultation with one of our doctors by calling 201-201-0443, or request an appointment online

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