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Neck Pain and Headaches

It’s the end of the day and your head is pounding and your neck is aching. Was it the work you were doing? Was it the stress or the way you were sitting at your desk or in the car driving?

Your neck is an intricate structure with many different muscles and nerves. The joints in your neck provide movement while the discs in between the vertebra gives support and shock absorption. When these structures are working well, it is a well oiled machine and can do almost anything. In today’s world of technology, sitting for long periods at work, on computers, driving or watching TV,  your neck muscles, joints and nerves can become weakened, tightened, strained and irritated.

The fact is that even the simplest movements can cause short periods of neck pain. Some of us may actually be experiencing chronic neck pain. Simple, repetitive movements can lead to prolonged muscle tightness, which can take time to show symptoms. In comparison, muscle strains happen with quick jolts such as an injury or lifting something too heavy.

How Neck Pain can go to your Head

Headaches can stem from tightness in the neck muscles at the back of the neck, which is brought on by a forward-head posture and rounded back as seen with prolonged, static postures. Neck pain and headaches are very common if you work at a computer, drive a lot, stoop over a piece of equipment or just sit a lot. In these static positions the spine can be strained, cause neck muscle tightness or joint mal-alignment and radiate symptom to your head, thus, a headache.

A forward head posture can also affect blood flow to the scalp, resulting in a headache, or eye pain. Pain can be referred from the neck to the base of the skull, behind the eyes or forehead and even one sided headaches around the temples. Pounding headaches at the back of the head can be related to neck muscle tightness and limited joint movement.

Since many headaches stem from problems with neck movement and posture, try to stand up against a wall with your back and see if you can get your head back against the wall without looking upward. How far away from the wall is the back of your head? If you have a forward head posture, your head will be quite far from the wall and is a sign you need some help with your posture. At this point, it is wise that you see a physical therapist to help reduce your neck pain and/or headache.