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Smith Chiropractic Center

Dr. Bob Smith     


607 North Sparta Street
Steeleville IL 62288      

(618) 965-3121

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Is There a Connection Between Headaches and Neck Pain

Many patients with neck pain also complain of headaches this is not the exception but rather the rule so anyone with headache should include neck treatments in order to achieve the optimum results. There is a term “Cervicogenic Headaches” which has become well accepted because of this relationship.  There are a number of reasons neck problems can cause headaches. Here are a few.

In the upper cervical region there are several nerves the exit the spinal and go directly into the head. If these nerves receive any excess pressure this may result in increased sensitivity and may cause pain over the nerves pathway or at its ending destination.

Pain starting at the base of the skull or in the upper neck may refer pain across the top of the head to the eyes or face. This is usually caused by pressure on the Trigeminal nerve which is the 5th cranial nerve. The pain or headache may result anywhere along the nerves pathway.

Tight and or spasming muscle in the front of the neck or across the shoulders may be the result of pressure on the 11th cranial nerve which exits the spinal cord around the C5-C7 levels in the neck

Other connections relating to the cervical region are the 2nd, 5th,7th,9th, and 10th cranial nerves which may affect the  facial muscles, taste, tongue and throat movements along with possible feelings of nausea.

It is very common to find upper cervical vertebral misalignment problems and restriction of motion in patients with headaches. Also another very common finding would be a Pottenjer Saucer in the upper thoracic vertebra along with tenderness and pain between the shoulder blades and along the upper shoulder and sides of the beck and at the base of the head. Tenderness may also be found across the head or the sides of the head, in the temples or over the eyes and near the jaw joint.

Because of the reasons above a thorough examination with a possible need for x-rays of the neck and upper back should be performed.

Chiropractic adjustments to the fixated or misaligned vertebra of the cervical region often brings satisfying relief to the headache suffer. There are some exercised that promote movement in the neck as well as strengthening exercises that are helpful in both reducing headaches and in preventing re-occurrences especially  with stress or tension headaches.