If you have headaches that don't just hurt your head but also involve neck (or upper back) pain or lack of movement in your neck, you may be experiencing tension or referred headaches. These headaches originate in the neck or upper back. When strained or irritated neck muscles cause the pain, the headaches are termed muscular or tension headaches. When dysfunctional or irritated joints cause the pain the condition is often termed vertebrogenic or facet syndrome). People with tension or referred headaches often feel mild to severe discomfort on one side of their head, although pain can occur on both sides. The pain usually starts in the neck but can also start from the tight muscles in the back of the head or even the muscles that work the jaw. From either of these places the pain can spread to the temples and possibly an combination or the ears, eyes or top of the head. The pain from this type of headache can be severe, although possible, it is rarely accompanied by migraine symptoms such as nausea or sensitivity to light and sound. The duration of pain varies from episode to episode and can last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks.
With this type of headache, you may find that awkward or uncomfortable postures and certain neck movements, like turning or bending, can make the pain worse. The muscles around your neck may also be tight and abnormally tender, and your neck may resist certain movements and be unable to move through its normal range of motion.
Because neck muscle stiffness or tightness can lead to tension or referred headaches, a variety of events that affect the neck can cause the condition. These include trauma to the head and neck from injuries such as whiplash; poor posture, which increases stress on muscles; and occupational or recreational stresses, such as extended phone use and other activities that keep the neck in awkward positions for prolonged periods.
At Advanced Pain Relief, we understand how to diagnose and treat the cause of these headaches using a personalized approach.