Neck Pain and Headaches

  • April 26, 2022

Neck Pain and Headaches 

Your neck is one of the most complex bundles of bones, nerves, and muscles in your entire body. In fact,  your neck is the site of a series of nerves that control every facial and head movement you make as well as all sensations below your shoulders. It’s no wonder why neck pain and any resulting headaches are cause for concern, especially when you cannot immediately identify their cause. Whether your neck pain is chronic or acute, sharp or dull, caused by injury or originating from an unknown cause, one fact remains. It cannot be ignored. To begin uncovering the source of your pain and addressing its resolution, contact our office today

What Causes Pain in The Neck? 

Your head is connected to your spine through a series of nerves and muscles and two tiny bones called the atlas and axis. The way these bones move together determines your head’s ability to move up and down or side to side. Tendons and ligaments add stability to your neck while muscles alternately tense and relax to allow for it to move. Tension, injury, poor posture, or stress can cause pain to develop in your neck. The most important step to treating your pain with physical therapy is to identify its cause. 

Common causes of neck pain include: 

  • Whiplash, as from a car accident or similar injury 
  • Poor posture 
  • Repeated motion 
  • Tension build-up 
  • Torticollis 
  • Back injury 

How are Neck Pain and Headaches Related? 

Since the neck is home to the cervical plexus, eight spinal nerves that branch into the cerebral column, pain that starts in the neck will often travel to the shoulders, back, and head. This is the biggest reason why neck pain is commonly associated with headaches of all types including migraines. In some cases, chronic headaches may be caused by neck pain and vice versa. In these circumstances, physical therapy to address neck pain can resolve frequent and severe headaches. Likewise, physical therapy to address headaches may help resolve neck pain as well. 

How Physical Therapy Helps Neck Pain and Headaches 

Most of the time, your first thought for treating a headache or pain in your neck isn’t physical therapy. You may first try pain-relieving medications, massage, or even changing the way you sit or work. However, chronic headaches are often an indicator of a much bigger problem than what you can fix on your own. 

A physical therapist is a musculoskeletal expert that has an arsenal of weapons to help you address neck pain and headaches. Through targeted exercise, a physical therapist can help you improve your strength and flexibility. In many cases, these exercises are more effective at treating neck pain than prescription pain medication. 

Physical therapy typically includes hands-on treatment to reduce tension in the muscles in your neck and relieve aches and pains. A good physical therapist will feel how the bones in your neck are moving and mobilize where you are stuck. Treatment also may include trigger point therapy or dry needling, massage, cranio-sacral therapy, and Class IV laser therapy to ease your pain along with others. As the pain reduces, control exercises are given to maintain the motion you have achieved. The key is to control the motion and increase your necks physical capacity to tolerate the stress you place on it with your everyday activities. 

No one needs to suffer from neck pain long-term. Whether you have acute or chronic headaches or dull or sharp neck pain, now is the time to have it addressed. The sooner you see a physical therapist, the sooner you can start on the road to recovery. Don’t let neck pain stop you from enjoying another day of your life. Contact us for an  

Treatment Options 

Self Treatment Exercise Videos

Neck Exercises:

Headache Exercises:


Do you know in New Jersey you don’t need a prescription or a referral for physical therapy? 

We are Doctors of Physical Therapy and are licensed by the State of New Jersey to identify Movement Dysfunction/Pain. 

The faster you undergo care the faster your recovery. 

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