Pain in the head and neck can be debilitating, especially if it’s a chronic condition. Unfortunately, 50 percent of the general population experience headaches regularly. In many cases, headaches are accompanied by neck pain, and vice versa. Here’s what you should know about head and neck pain and how to treat it.
Head and Neck Pain Symptoms
Head and neck pain can cause a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common include:
• Stiff neck muscles
• Shooting pain that may travel down the neck or arm
• Unusual facial pain
• Tingling sensations in the neck or head
• Numbness in one arm or hand
• Burning sensation in the neck or head
• Dull, aching pain in head
• Tenderness on the scalp
• Feeling of pressure or tightness on the back, sides, or front of your head
If you’re experiencing chronic neck and head pain, it’s important to tell a doctor about your condition. It’s especially important to seek immediate treatment if you experience serious symptoms like a very high fever, slurred speech, vision changes, loss of memory, confusion, or vomiting with your headache.
Head and Neck Pain Causes
Many factors can contribute to head and neck pain. There are generally two types of headaches a person can experience: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Primary headaches aren’t usually caused by an underlying disease and can frequently be traced back to over-activity of pain-sensitive structures located in the head. Sometimes lifestyle factors like poor posture, alcohol consumption, and excessive stress can trigger primary headaches. Common types of primary headaches include a migraine, migraine with aura, cluster headache, and tension headache.
Secondary headaches occur as the result of an underlying disease or condition. A few common causes of secondary headaches include carbon monoxide poisoning, brain tumors, acute sinusitis, blood clots in the brain, and concussion. Common types of secondary headaches include Thunderclap headaches, ice cream headaches (also referred to as brain freeze), sinus headaches, and external compression headaches (caused by ill-fitting headgear).
Head and Neck Pain Treatments
We use a variety of treatments to combat neck and head pain. To determine what treatment or combination of treatments will work best for you, our pain doctors will perform a comprehensive evaluation. Once the cause of your pain is accurately diagnosed, we will develop a tailored treatment plan designed to improve your quality of life in the least invasive way possible. A few possible treatment options we may recommend include:
• Botox injections for headaches
• Nerve blocks
• Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)
• Chiropractic treatment
• Spinal cord stimulation and/or Peripheral nerve stimulation
• Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the sensory nerves around the painful areas
If minimally invasive methods are insufficient to treat your head and neck pain, joint injections and neck surgery may be recommended as a last resort. Our pain relief physicians will walk you through all your treatment options to help you make the most informed treatment decision.
Head and Neck Pain Risk Factors
There is still much research that needs to be done before we fully understand the risk factors for head and neck pain. However, the following factors have been shown to increase the risk of head and neck pain:
• Stress (especially psychological)
• Occupation (office workers are more likely than the general population to experience head and neck pain)
• Excess weight
• Repetitive activities
• Poor posture
• Smoking (this habit decreases bone density and damages connective tissue)
• Exercising excessively or incorrectly
Mild neck or head pain can often be treated with adequate rest, stretching, heat therapy, and moderate exercise. Chronic head and neck pain may require more consistent or invasive treatments for effective pain relief.
If you suffer from daily headaches or other symptoms of chronic neck and head pain, we would love to meet with you. Schedule a consultation with the skilled pain relief physicians at Superior Pain Relief by filling out our online form or calling us.