Does Neck Pain Cause Headaches

Does neck pain cause headaches or not?

Neck pain does often refer into the head and cause headaches, but it’s often not the root cause of your headaches. 

This seems like a fine distinction, but it’s really not. In fact, there’s a whole category of headaches that are called cervicogenic headaches. These headaches are ones that are ultimately caused by some type of painful neck problem. It’s reported that up to 20% of the headaches suffered by the global population are cervicogenic headaches. A physical therapist can help you learn what neck issues do cause neck pain and headaches. These medical professionals can also help you find effective treatment for your cervicogenic headaches. 

Three common issues that causes neck pain-based headaches

Figuring out if neck pain is causing your headaches can be tricky on your own. Finding out what issue is at the root of your neck pain can be even harder. Fortunately, physical therapists can help you learn about the root cause of your neck discomfort and headaches. Some issues that may be causing these symptoms are: 

  1. Tense neck muscles — Many of the muscles in your neck run into your head as well. This means that tension in one or more neck muscles can lead to headache-triggering pain. Commonly, neck muscle tension is a result of repetitive head movements or poor posture. 
  1. Herniated cervical discs — There are seven cervical vertebrae that make up your neck. Each of these vertebrae has a spinal disc between it and its neighbors to provide cushioning. Like a jelly doughnut, these discs have a solid outer layer and a gel-like inner layer. A herniated disc occurs when the inner material pokes out of a tear in the outer disc layer. 
  1. Cervical spondylosis — This is the term medical professionals use to refer to osteoarthritis in the neck. Medical researchers report that more than 85% of people over 60 have this condition to some degree. Neck osteoarthritis can lead to pain and decreased range of motion in your neck, and it can also trigger cervicogenic headaches. 

How does physical therapy help treat neck pain that causes headaches?

There are many ways that physical therapists can treat the neck problem behind your cervicogenic headaches. A few of the techniques that they may use include: 

  • Graston Technique® sessions designed to allow therapists to break up scar tissue from previous neck injuries. 

SOL PT offers treatment that addresses neck pain that causes headaches

Are you looking for treatment that addresses both the neck pain and root neck problem that’s causing your headaches? Our SOL Physical Therapy team offers just the type of treatment that you’re looking for. We can comprehensively evaluate your neck to reveal the problem that you have. Next, our physical therapists can construct a customized physical therapy plan intended to reduce your pain and slash your headache frequency. Even better, our virtual therapy service allows you to do your treatment from the comfort of your own home. 

Contact our team today for more information about how we can treat neck pain and headaches or to schedule your initial appointment.

About the author

Sports + Orthopedic Leaders Physical Therapy & Performance Training serves the communities of Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Orinda, San Francisco and beyond. SOLPT’s award winning team of Physical Therapists, Performance Coaches and movement experts has helped thousands reach their rehabilitation and performance goals to move beyond pain. We're committed to helping anyone of any fitness level move effectively and more powerfully for a lifetime. We offer rehabilitation and performance services to all populations, with specialties in Sports Rehabilitation, Active Release Techniques, and Manual Therapy Techniques plus Personal and Small Group Training, Sport Clinics and Wellness Services.