Head and Neck Pain

Head and Neck Pain Treatment by Dr. Vivek Loomba


Headache is a common ailment in a majority of the population around the world. Among 20% of the population get affected by headache problems every year due to stress, migraines, and other lifestyle factors. Neck pain can also induce headaches or vice-versa as they are connected with each other. However, their connection widely depends on the cause of the pain. Sometimes, head and neck pain can cause a lot of discomforts resulting in numbness and weakness in the body. So, learning more about the connection between the two and understanding the root cause of your head or neck pain can help you in avoiding such situations to occur.

Types of Headaches that may cause Neck pain

Many different types of headaches occur on the basis of circumstances and situations. The most common headaches among them are –

  • Tension headache – A tension headache occurs when you’ve fatigue, stress, and muscle strain in the body. Frequent tension headaches need to be treated on time or they will cause throbbing pain in the future.

  • Cervicogenic Headache – It starts in the neck but the pain can be felt up to the head. It is caused by problems in the neck or muscles from conditions like osteoarthritis, prolapsed disk, or whiplash injury. 
  • Cluster Headache – It can cause severe one-sided pain in or around your one eye. The exact cause of cluster headaches is not yet found. However, they are very painful and they can happen two to three times a day. The pain lasts for around 20 minutes to 3 hours until remission. 
  • Covid-19 headache – It can happen when there is muscle stiffness, sinus headache, blood vessel damage, or a change in blood pressure. Around 34% of the population diagnosed with covid-19 have reported experiencing covid-19 headaches. 
  • Migraine – It is a throbbing pain that usually happens due to an abnormal brain activity affecting blood vessels, chemicals, and blood vessels in the brain. 
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) headache – When you grind your teeth the pain can spread to TMJ muscles alongside your cheeks and to your head resulting in a headache. You will experience facial tightness or jaw pain causing difficulty in biting. It can also arise to tension headaches.
  • Hemicrania continua – It causes pain in one side of the face and head. The symptoms are common as migraine and it is not dependent on environmental or lifestyle factors.

Treatments for Head and Neck Pain

Clinicians examine the patient’s pain through diagnostic tests and procedures for effective treatment. They create a treatment plan on the basis of diagnosis for primary as well as secondary headaches. Usually, doctors prescribe some medications and self-care for the underlying condition to control symptoms 

  • Medications – Over-the-counter painkillers are the first treatments for headaches. The most common painkillers used are –
  • Acetaminophen
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
  • Physical Therapy –Doctors may also recommend physical therapy through chiropractors, cognitive behavior, acupuncture, or relaxation technique. Other self-care methods can also help in pain relief such as applying ice or heat, using a neck brace and having good posture while sitting, standing, or driving.

When to see a doctor

Many people experience this pain occasionally which is not a huge concern. Taking some OTC(Over-the-counter) medications, resting, or getting a massage can heal the pain. However, if the pain lasts longer than usual you should consult a specialist. The symptoms you’ll notice are –

  • OTC (Over-the-counter) medications cause no effects
  • Headache interferes with daily activities
  • Pain lasts more than 72 hours.
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness or numbness of the face
  • Stiff Neck
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Difficulty in walking or working out
  • Loss of vision
  • Nausea or dizziness

If medications and self-care treatments are not working you should contact a doctor and get the necessary help for all your serious underlying conditions. They will diagnose your pain by providing you with quick recovery from other worrying symptoms. In major cases, doctors may recommend surgery as it can be the best option for your overall health and pain relief management.