Double Whammy: Neck Pain With Headaches

Neck pain is a frequent and often debilitating condition—it is second in total workers compensation costs in the United States. A variety of mechanisms for neck pain have been proposed such as arthritis, trauma, cervical disc, and myofascial pain syndrome. However, it is difficult to determine a specific cause for patients with neck pain so neck pain is classified by its effects. One type of neck pain is neck pain with headaches, also referred to as a cerviocranial headache.

You might feel:

    • One sided head ache that is associated with neck and base of head symptoms
    • Head ache aggravated with neck movements
    • Limitations in cervical range of motion with pain
    • Weakness to neck musculature

Associated Causes:

    • May or may not have specific changes to neck structures as noted on imaging
    • Heavy lifting and manual work
    • Poor posture, sustained postures
    • Trauma such as car accident
    • Awkward positions

Treatment Options:

    • Postural training
    • Manual therapy techniques to cervical spine
    • Specific corrective exercise to address neck dysfunction and weakness
    • Sustained or repeated movements into positions that reduce symptoms
    • Medication and other modalities such as ice or heat may be necessary to calm symptoms enough to participate in corrective exercises.

Every individual and every episode of neck pain is very unique. The treatment suggestions listed above include several options to try and see how they may improve your situation. In addition, a thorough evaluation by a physical therapist can help identify specific features about your condition and how to best manage them. Understanding as much as possible about your current condition is a very important aspect of the recovery process and will empower you to take the necessary steps to get back to your normal activities with as little discomfort as possible.

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