Is My Headache Coming From My Neck?

We’ve all heard the phrase “pain in the neck,” and we’ve all suffered from headaches. But did you know that if you’re suffering from both, the two might be connected?

There are plenty of causes for headaches. It can be something as simple as dehydration or lack of sleep and it can be something as serious as a tumor or impending aneurism, In many cases, headaches can be traced back to a problem in your neck.

When you are experiencing headaches caused by a physiologic problem with your neck, your medical diagnosis is that you’re suffering from cervicogenic headaches. That may sound unusual and frightening, but according to the International Headache Society, cervicogenic headaches account for nearly one in five chronic headaches and more than half of headaches that follow vehicular collisions.

If you’re wondering how a problem in your neck can lead to a pain within your head, the first thing you need to understand is that symptoms from one area of the body are often felt elsewhere. This is known as referred pain, and it is part of the way that our nervous system transports information. Though pain in the head may be coming from the neck, that is not always the case. So how can you be sure of the source?

To determine the source of your headache, start by answering a few questions about your headache’s characteristics or accompanying symptoms:

  • Are you undergoing a period of high physical stress that requires awkward movements in the neck or remaining in the same position for an extended period of time?
  • When you have a headache, do you also feel stiffness or pain in your neck?
  • Is your headache intense or mild? An intense headache will keep you restricted to a dark room, sitting in a chair or your bed and unable to attend to your normal daily activities. Milder headaches, which are often caused by problems in the neck, are generally annoyances that you are able to work through.

If you are suffering from headaches that you suspect may be coming from a problem with your neck, one of your first steps should be to make an appointment with our cervical spine specialist in New Jersey. Our experienced physician will conduct a thorough examination and ask all of the pertinent questions about your medical history to help determine what the best course of action may be.

Solutions may include:

  • medication
  • the application of ice or heat
  • massage
  • a course of exercise meant to help strengthen the muscles in your core and neck
  • sessions with a physical therapist to help you improve your posture.

Our physician may also order diagnostic testing to assess whether you are suffering from any physical injuries or degeneration that are contributing to your pain. In cases where injuries cannot be addressed using these conservative approaches, minimally invasive spine procedures may be necessary.

It may seem strange to seek help for a headache from a spine surgeon, but in many cases our cervical spine specialist in New Jersey is able to provide the most immediate relief.

Contact us today for more information and to set up an appointment.

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