Headaches, Neck Pain, and Neck Tension: Causes and Solutions

Though the three ailments that we’ll examine in this post—headaches, neck pain, and neck tension (which can also feel like neck stiffness, soreness, etc.)—may seem like three disparate problems at first glance, they’re actually closely …

Though the three ailments that we’ll examine in this post—headaches, neck pain, and neck tension (which can also feel like neck stiffness, soreness, etc.)—may seem like three disparate problems at first glance, they’re actually closely related to one another. In fact, the causes of neck tension and pain may also be the causes of tension headaches, and vice versa. In other words, though the symptoms of these complaints can be very different, the underlying causes are often quite similar.

The causes of neck and head pain or tension are different for everyone, but there are a few common culprits that should always be considered. Anxiety and stress can contribute significantly to neck tension and stiffness. Poor posture and positioning throughout the day, especially for those who work at a computer, may also be a factor. Sleeping position may also cause neck problems.

Tension headaches, which are related to muscle contractions in the head and neck areas, can be caused by these same day-to-day issues, but may also be related to caffeine, alcohol, and drug consumption, among other possibilities. In some cases, neck pain may also be caused by more serious conditions, such as whiplash following a car accident.

Chiropractic care can go a long way toward improving discomfort in these problem areas, with spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and massage therapy used as common modalities. In some cases, lifestyle changes may also be necessary. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of these conditions, including what may be causing your own difficulties—and what exactly you can do about it.

Neck Tension

When it comes to neck tension, patients report experiencing a range of sensations, which often include stiffness, soreness, and pain. In some cases, what may be referred to as a “stiff neck” is simply caused by a sleeping position or postural problem. Though there is a range in the severity and duration of problems related to stiff neck, this condition commonly resolves itself within about a week.

However, neck tension is often caused by anxiety and stress, and these types of neck complaints can be more difficult to address. For some sufferers, the neck tension associated with anxiety comes and goes, while it may persist at all times for others.

Often, the best way to relieve anxiety or stress-related neck tension is to address the underlying issue. Certain relaxation techniques may help, including deep breathing, meditation, and massage. Applying ice and simple neck stretches can also make a significant difference. In the long term, however, determining a healthy way in which to deal with the root cause of anxiety and stress is the best solution.

In many cases, a holistic, comprehensive chiropractic plan will help to resolve neck tension issues, both in the short term and the long term. This is especially true if your neck tension doesn’t resolve over a long period, limits your range of motion, or involves severe pain (more on that later).

Chiropractic spinal manipulation is likely to improve your neck tension, but at PMR, we’ll generally employ other modalities as part of a holistic treatment plan—including acupuncture, massage therapy, and others. Our treatment choices will depend not only on the cause of tension, but on the needs, concerns, and goals of the individual patient.

Neck Pain

Pain in the neck area can have many different causes, so a proper diagnosis is an important first step. At PMR, we begin any course of treatment with a diagnosis, and we’ll treat the underlying causes with a holistic, comprehensive treatment plan.

When it comes to neck pain, one common cause is whiplash, a type of injury that usually follows a car accident or similar experience in which the neck is unnaturally jerked back and forth. Other possible causes of neck pain include cervical spondylosis, arthritis, and osteoporosis. As mentioned previously, neck pain can also be related to tension headaches and problems related to the spine, muscles, and ligaments in the neck area.

Of course, your specific treatment plan will depend on the cause of your neck pain. Some injuries may require surgery, but at PMR, we always aim to resolve issues without surgery or invasive procedures if at all possible. As with neck tension, relaxation techniques can help.

It’s always worthwhile to consider possible stressors, and even sleeping position, when dealing with neck issues. If your neck pain is related to tension headaches, you’ll also want to consider some of the relaxation techniques mentioned above. At PMR, we often treat such problems with a combination of modalities, including massage therapy and acupuncture.

Neck pain is also sometimes related to everyday stress that stems from poor posture and craning. If you’re experiencing persistent neck pain, take care to consider your workplace or desk posture, as well as any exercise routines that may put unnecessary strain on the neck area.

Headaches, neck tension, and neck pain can be a trifecta of misery for many, but they shouldn’t be a cause for despair and hopelessness. Our specialists at PMR have decades of combined experience in treating these conditions. We understand the ways in which they are connected, and our advanced techniques target the underlying causes rather than just the symptoms, providing last relief that’s not possible with other treatments.

For more information on the treatment of neck and head issues and their possible causes, as well as answers to any questions and concerns you might have about our modalities, pick up the phone and give us a call at PMR today!