Neck Strain Headache

Can A Neck Strain Cause Headaches And Other Pain Issues?

Headaches can be caused for a wide variety of reasons. Things like sinus pressure, hormonal changes, direct head injuries, the common cold, and even stress are all well known reasons for why a person might develop a headache. For people who suffer from chronic or frequent headaches finding the cause is the first step in finding a solution to the problem. Sometimes the cause is not clear, or it might be something that people often do not associate with headaches. Neck problems are one of the most common undiagnosed culprits out there for causing this issue, we can call it a neck strain headache, but there is a term called a cervicogenic headache.

The Problem

can a neck strain cause headachesOur neck is effectively the linkage between our brain and the rest of our body. As such it carries a tremendous number of nerves within it in order to pass signals from the brain to everywhere else. At the very base of the back of the skull, in the center where the head meets the neck, is one of the largest confluences of nerves in the human body. When something happens to upset those nerves it is highly likely that a headache will develop.

The headache in this case is actually a symptom of the neck strain. It is possible to experience a headache from this neck strain without feeling any pain in the neck at all. The tricky thing about diagnosing pain that results from a neck or back injury is that the pain can show up in areas that seem to be unrelated to the actual injury. So when you ask can neck strains cause headaches the answer is yes, but that is not the only pain that this strain can cause.

Your neck strain could actually be responsible for pain that shows up in your upper back, shoulders, arms, and other places in the body because pain in the neck can transfer to other areas via that large confluence of nerves. Additionally, if the neck is strained, areas of muscle irritation can form trigger points, which may refer pain to the head and even the shoulders. So, the neck may be the weak link in the chain of muscles and nerves which go to the head.

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If you suspect a chronic neck strain headache, the best thing you could do is to actually go to your doctor because headaches are multifactoral. This is an issue you should always get more than one opinion on. Headaches if they continue for a long period of time can indicate a very serious underlying condition. It is important to get the cause of a long standing headache diagnosed as fast as possible. This is something that should not be ignored.

neck exercise to relieve headachesOften, a simple neck stretching exercise can give a clue to whether the headache is related to neck pain. Performing this, one may be able to determine if it is related to the neck when relief is noted. A headache related to neck issues is called a “cervicogenic headache” and it is usually one sided and may cause some nausea, but no vomiting.

Strain to neck muscles as well as joint irritation from poor posture or injuries can be the cause. A simple example is working at a computer. You are working for a while and notice your having trouble seeing, so you move your head forward towards the screen. Since your head weighs about 10 pounds, holding the head forward places another 10 pounds of weight that your neck must support for each inch the head moves forward. Move closer 4 inches, that’s an extra 40 pounds of weight your neck must support. This lead to a condition called forward head posture or military neck. Maintain this position for hours and. over time, neck strain is almost unavoidable. Proper ergonomics is essential a neck strain headache.

So, can a neck strain cause headaches? Yes, both from an injury where there is pain and inflammation that follows the nerves upward, and from poor head, neck and upper back posture that allows too much strain on the muscles so that the joints and discs become irritated.

Author Bio

Stephen Ornstein, D.C. has treated thousands of neck, shoulder and back conditions since graduating Sherman Chiropractic College in 1987 and during his involvement in Martial Arts. He holds certifications as a Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy from Dr. Hanne Albert, PT., MPH., Ph.D., Myofascial Release Techniques from Logan Chiropractic College, and learned Active Release Technique from the founder, P. Michael Leahy, DC, ART, CCSP.