Can Neck Pain Cause Headaches?

Neck pain and headaches often coincide, which has people wondering if one is causing the other. Headaches are one of the most common health complaints, with many possible causes, and neck pain can be one of them. 

You may have heard of cervicogenic headaches, which can mimic the symptoms of migraines. This type of headache originates from the cervical area of the spine, which is located in the neck and base of the skull.

So, what are the symptoms of cervicogenic headaches, and what can you do to make them and your neck pain disappear?

What Are the Symptoms of Cervicogenic Headaches?

With cervicogenic headaches, you may feel intense pain on one side of the head. You may feel it starting at the bottom of your skull and traveling upwards. In addition, people experience other symptoms like stiff neck, neck aches, pain when sneezing or coughing, pain around one eye, and blurred vision.

What Causes Neck Pain and Cervicogenic Headaches?

The causes of cervicogenic headaches stem from muscle, bone, or nerve issues in your neck. They are often a result of whiplash, but they can occur due to:

  • Bad posture
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Injuries
  • Sleeping in an awkward position
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Herniated disc
  • Excessive computer use
  • A pinched nerve

What’s the Difference Between Cervicogenic Headaches and Migraines?

Since pain occurs on one side of the head, you may suspect a migraine when dealing with a cervicogenic headache. In addition, migraine can cause neck pain, which is why you may confuse those two. 

Other symptoms like muscle tenderness and progressive pain with continued activity are also similar. However, the pain felt with a cervicogenic headache is not throbbing, and it is more of a dull ache. 

In addition, migraines often have symptoms like sensitivity to light and nausea, which are rare in people with cervicogenic headaches. However, these two conditions can occur simultaneously, and a cervicogenic headache can even trigger a migraine.

How to Treat a Cervicogenic Headache?

If your headache and neck pain are intense and prevent you from doing regular daily activities, you should visit a doctor. The first thing they will recommend is some type of medication to relieve your pain. That may include:

  • Over the counter pain relievers
  • Prescription pain relievers
  • Steroid injections
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Anticonvulsants

In addition, your doctor will want to address the root cause of your pain. So they will take a look at your neck and suggest an appropriate treatment for your condition. That may include physical therapy and a customized stretching and exercise plan to help you relax and strengthen your muscles.

Other treatments for eliminating neck pain include:

  • Nerve blockers
  • Trigger point injections
  • Platelet-rich plasma
  • Facet joint injections
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Other regenerative medicine therapy options

Where to Get Help for Head and Neck Pain?

Regenerative medicine offers innovative solutions to help you get rid of that persistent neck pain causing your headaches. Our team of experts, led by Dr. Jeffrey Pruski and Dr. Edward Nash, is ready to assess your condition, find the cause of your pain, and eliminate it. Schedule an appointment in our center in Woodlands, Texas, and discover a pain-free life once again.


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