AABP Integrative Pain Care

The Link Between Headaches and Neck Pain

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Headaches and neck pain often go hand in hand. However, these symptoms can be a warning sign of a cervicogenic headache or something more serious. Learn about the connection between headaches and neck pain and why a prompt diagnosis is important.

Many people who experience recurrent headaches or migraines also complain of neck stiffness and pain. There is also a specific type of headache known as a cervicogenic headache, a condition where head and neck pain are hallmark symptoms.

At AABP Integrative Pain Care, our board-certified pain management team specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of headaches, including cervicogenic headaches. We take a holistic approach to easing head and neck pain and preventing the onset of new headaches.

What to know about cervicogenic headaches

A cervicogenic headache is a referred pain condition, meaning the pain you perceive to be in your head actually originates in your neck.

Cervicogenic headaches are secondary headaches and stem from issues in the cervical (upper) spine. Infections, fractures, arthritis, and tumors can contribute to persistent neck pain that you also feel in your head. Neck injuries like whiplash can also be a trigger for cervicogenic headaches.

In addition to head and neck pain, cervicogenic headaches can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain around the eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to sound and light

Because these symptoms occur with migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches, cervicogenic headaches are difficult to diagnose and often misdiagnosed.

Why head and neck pain need an accurate diagnosis

When head and neck pain aren’t treatable with home remedies, it’s wise to seek an accurate diagnosis from our pain management specialists. Delaying a diagnosis can increase your risk for debilitating pain that disrupts your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Our team also recommends a diagnostic evaluation if you experience symptoms in addition to persistent head and neck pain, including:

  • Fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Radiating pain in the arms and hands
  • Reduced range of motion in the cervical spine

If you experience severe symptoms like slurred speech, loss of balance, or seizures, seek immediate medical attention at the nearest hospital emergency room. These symptoms can be a warning sign of a potentially life-threatening stroke or brain aneurysm.

How to get relief from cervicogenic headache pain

Our medical team provides comprehensive evaluations to diagnose the root cause of your head and neck pain. We may request bloodwork to identify underlying infections or imaging tests to locate herniated discs or vertebral fractures in your cervical spine.

Your pain management specialist may also recommend a nerve block, a procedure to deliver anesthetic medication into your cervical spine. If the nerve block lessens your head and neck pain, it can be an indication the source of your pain is a cervicogenic headache. A nerve block can also be helpful as a treatment to manage and prevent pain if oral medications aren’t effective.

Our providers also value the importance of a healthy lifestyle to reduce the frequency of headaches. We can suggest lifestyle changes, diet modifications, and stress management techniques you can incorporate into your routine to enhance your overall health.  We also offer customized infusion therapies for headaches and chronic pain.

Physical therapy and at-home stretching exercises may benefit people prone to any type of headache. Exercises that target the neck can reduce muscle strain and tension so your cervical spine remains flexible and functional.

Call the AABP Integrative Pain office in White Plains, Brooklyn, or Garden City, New York, to schedule a headache consultation or book an appointment online today.