Can Your Neck Be the Cause for Your Headache?

Neck Pain and Headche
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.


Whoever says that they have not felt a headache at least once in their lives, they are lying and you as well. Triggered by so many different reasons, headaches occur within all ages and races. There is not one, the exact cause for the annoying headaches, instead, there are a number of reasons including inadequate sleep, alcohol use, too much time spend in front of the computer, a cold etc. – all of these are common causes for what is also known as tension headaches. The tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck. So can your neck problems be the ones responsible for that annoying headache that does not seem to go away? Is there a link between neck pain and headache? If you are reading this article, then you are probably interested in finding out more about this relation. And that is exactly what we will go to do! We are going to answer to all of your unasked questions including – Can neck pain cause headache? How neck pain causes a headache? and Why does neck pain cause a headache? Can you think about any other question? Not to worry, we will answer it!

Can a Headache be Caused by Neck Problems?

Unfortunately, yes – your headache can be actually caused due to your neck problems and there is even a medical term for this condition. And yes, it is a condition or rather called a disorder that we are talking about. We are talking about a disorder known as a cervicogenic headache, or simply known as painfu neck headache. This is a secondary headache disorder that is caused due to your neck problems. Can you guess what neck problems are we talking about? Well, we are going to share those problems in a bit. But first, let’s see if there is anything that you are doing wrong that might strengthen up your headache. Unexpected neck movements might just make this already annoying headache worse. We are talking about a headache that usually occurs only on one side of the head and does not have the characteristic to radiate from one side to another. Sleeping on the stomach is another thing that just might make your headache worse. Now let’s discuss what is behind this relation between your headache and your neck problems.

How is Neck Pain Connected to a Headache?

Actually, it is all very simple if you think about it, all that you need is a basic knowledge on the topic of human anatomy. We already mentioned what a tension headache is in the introduction. Defined as a headache that occurs due to muscular contractions of the muscles on the head and neck, the tension headache is much more common than you might think. And this is yet another type of a tension headache as well. As you may know, your spine is made of vertebras that are supported in their function to wear the weight of the head with a number of muscles. Whenever these vertebras are not positioned as they should in a normal physiological position, the patient suffers through different symptoms, one of which is a neck headache, surprisingly is also the most common one. What happens is your muscles tightening due to the changed position of the vertebras. Other symptoms include jaw pain, inability to move your neck, stiffness in the neck, sharp or dull pain in the neck. But apart from this specific disorder, there are other factors that can lead to your neck to cause an annoying headache. These factors include emotional and physical stress, staying in an uncomfortable position for a long time in front of the computer or while reading or watching TV, sleeping in an awkward position and so on. Although this is not a serious condition, it can be annoying. And most importantly, it will not go away on its own. What it requires is a treatment, especially if the cause for your constant headache is a condition like a cervicogenic headache. Let’s see what you can do to get some relief from this headache neck pain!

How to Relieve a Headache Caused by Neck Problems?

Now that we discussed the relation between a headache and neck pain, it is the turn to offer some pretty useful tips on how to get some relief and forget about this headache for a little while. Reaching out to your doctor is the first step. He/she can perform a physical exam and rule out any other possible causes for your headache. The next step is contacting a professional physiotherapist. A professional physiotherapist is the one that will lead the treatment course and help you forget about your headache in no time. First of all, if a cervicogenic headache is what is causing your headache in the first place, then what must be done is find out where are these changes in the position of vertebras exactly and then try to get them back in their psychological position. As soon as this is done your headache is supposed to stop. And in the meantime, there is a variety of over-the-counter painkillers that you can choose from. Working together with a professional physiotherapist and/or chiropractor on a set of exercises that are supposed to increase* your neck and head mobility without any pain, and decrease* the stiffness and pain in the neck. Trying neck extension is also a widely used technique to approach this problem.


Neck pain and headache are quite the annoying problems for someone to live with. These problems can lead to a decreased* quality of life and cause additional problems for you. But what it is that is causing these problems, specifically your headaches? As we mentioned in the previous article, there is not only one exact cause for a headache to occur. But what we wanted to talk about is the fact that your neck problems, specifically the change in the position of the spinal vertebrae, can be the reason behind it. And this is a whole condition or better said – disorder known as a cerviogenic headache or a neck headache as well. Caused by the tightening of the muscles that support the spine, this headache can be quite difficult to live with. Accompanied by stiffness and pain in the neck and decreased* motion of the head and the neck as well, the Cervicogenic headache is not an easy diagnose. But it is not untreatable and that is what is most important! It can be treated with a treatment course of several weeks, over-the-counter painkillers and home remedies that promise to relieve your pain and make your life easier without it in it. Suffering from an occasional headache is hard enough and imagine how these patients then must feel suffering from this chronic headache until their neck problems are solved. So if you or a friend or family member of yours suffers from a headache that does not seem to go away with days, even weeks, make sure that you or they ask for help to make sure that perhaps is not a condition like a Cervicogenic headache in question. And if it is, do not hesitate to reach out for help and forget about this pain in no time.


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Expert Author : Beth Solomon (Consumer Health Digest)

Beth Solomon has been writing articles on health for more than two years with a concentration on pain management and men’s and women’s health and fitness. She has been a contributing editor to Consumer Health Digest since 2013.

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