Neck Headache and Pain It is possible that it is caused by a variety of causes, treatments and more Healthgrades

Headache and neck pain often occur in conjunction with other illnesses. While the root causes can be difficult to identify treatment options can help manage the symptoms.

Learn more about headaches and neck pain and neck pain, including possible causes, treatment options and when to see the doctor.

PER Images/Stocksy United

Neck pain and headache are frequent symptoms, and it is sometimes difficult to determine the source and then treat the discomfort.

The neck nerves are connected to the cranial nerves. Particularly the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve transmits signals of sensation across the head to thalamus. In turn, neck pain can be a result of tension headaches and pain in the area behind the eyes.

The pain is referred across the body from one area to another. The neck pain and the headache are linked since pain signals that start in the neck can be felt in the head and signals that start in the head could be felt in the neck.

A variety of conditions can trigger headaches and neck pain.

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an airway problem that can cause breathing problems when you sleep. It could be connected to cervical spine the upper segment of the spine that forms the neck. In addition, OSA may cause morning headaches.

Find out more about the symptoms of OSA.

Secondary or primary headaches

Tension headaches and migraines are the primary headaches. Tension headaches frequently cause neck pain as a result of muscles that are tight in the neck, jaw or the face. A study conducted in 2021 revealed that 62 out of 76 patients suffering from migraine also suffered neck pain.

Cervicogenic headache, which is a typical type of secondary headache is characterized by pain that typically begins on the other side of the neck.

Learn more about the various types of headaches.

Temporomandibular disorders

Temporomandibular (TMD) conditions are issues with joints which open as well as close your jaw. They are often associated in conjunction with headaches and can cause discomfort on one or both sides of your neck.


Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, which are the connective tissue layers that cover and enclosing the brain as well as the spinal cord. It is a life-threatening condition. The symptoms include headache, stiff neck and fever, mental state shifts, changes in light sensitivities vomiting, nausea.

Learn more about the signs of meningitis.

Occipital neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia can cause irritation to the occipital nerves that run through to the back to the neck to the neck. The discomfort associated with the condition can be felt at areas such as the back of the neck and the upper neck region.

Find out more about the symptoms of occipital neuropathy.

Stroke is the result of a disruption in cerebral blood circulation that is caused by the blockage of a clot in the blood vessel or ruptured blood vessel accompanied by hemorrhage. A sudden and severe headache with neck pain can be a typical sign.

Find out more about the signs of stroke.

Other signs that may occur

Based on the reason for your neck or head pain, additional symptoms that may be experienced include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • stiffness or reduced mobility in the neck
  • febrile

The root cause to the cause of your headaches as well as neck pain may be a challenge.

A pain diary can aid in the identification of patterns when the symptoms are often present together. The journal could comprise:

  • frequency, time and duration of duration, frequency, and time of
  • methods you’ve tried and whether they performed
  • foods you ate at the moment of the onset
  • the activities you were involved during the period that you first began
  • with accompanying symptoms
  • Weather information
  • sleep quality
  • emotions and stress

After reviewing your medical history Your doctor can perform other tests, like:

  • examining urine and blood for signs of infection or toxins
  • A spinal tap to look for any bleeding or infection
  • imaging tests, like the CT image or MRI
  • EEG to measure the electrical activity in the brain


Treatments for neck pain are dependent on the cause of the pain and the degree. Treatment options include:

  • managing stress
  • taking part in physical therapy sessions to strengthen neck muscles
  • Applying cold or warm packs to areas that are painful
  • using medications, for example:

    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
    • triptans, as well as other medications, to treat migraine
    • nausea medications
    • narcotic analgesics for short-term relief
    • anticonvulsants
    • beta-blockers
    • calcium channel blockers
    • antidepressants
    • antibiotics to treat infections
    • steroid injections
  • using medical devices for sleep apnea
  • Use a pillow with a firm support beneath the neck to help sleep

The outcome for patients suffering from headaches and neck pains depends on the root of the problem.

Certain causes of head and neck pain can be alleviated through non-medicated methods, such as the use of a pillow that is more supportive or reducing stress. Other causes can be more severe and require medical treatment.

The most effective method to improve chances of success is to consult your doctor. Based on the diagnosis, they will suggest treatments.


Certain causes of neck and head discomfort can be avoided. Some causes are not. Recognizing the cause of neck and head discomfort can aid. For instance, if you get up with headaches and neck pain changing your sleeping environment could be helpful.

Vaccines help prevent meningitis. Think about speaking with a health specialist about them, and then making sure you are up-to-date with your vaccinations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following stroke-prevention measures

  • eating meals that include fruits or vegetables and eating foods that are low in saturated fats and trans fats.
  • keeping a healthy weight
  • Engaging in regular exercise if you can.
  • Quitting smoking quitting smoking
  • Limiting your alcohol consumption when you drink.
  • taking care of health issues that are underlying

When should you see a doctor?

Certain headaches that cause neck pain disappear by themselves, however other reasons could indicate stroke or meningitis. See a doctor if have any of these:

  • neck stiffness, headaches that are severe
  • nausea, vomiting, or fever
  • confusion
  • weakness, particularly on the opposite side of the body.
  • loss of consciousness
  • vision changes like double vision
  • A headache following an injury
  • Seizure activity that is accompanied by headache
  • inability to understand or speak speech
  • headaches which occur two times a week or more

Avi Varma M.D., M.P.H., AAHIVS, FAAFP examined some of the responses to commonly asked concerns about headache and neck pain.

What should I do if I am worried about my neck and head discomfort?

Consult a physician if you are experiencing persistent or extreme discomfort in your head or neck. Also, pain that is that is accompanied by other symptoms like weakness or confusion might require medical attention immediately.

How do you alleviate neck discomfort and headaches?

Solutions for neck and headaches is dependent on the root reason. For instance, if suffer from tension headaches or migraine attacks A doctor might recommend specific painkillers or medication. Consult a physician for the diagnosis.

Neck pain and headaches typically occur together. See a doctor if neck pain continues to persist, becomes worse or is accompanied by other signs.