headache caused by neck injury

How can a Headache be caused by a neck injury?

by | Nov 12, 2018 | General Chiropractic

While headaches may be a common occurrence for some individuals, no two headaches are the exact same. In fact, doctors have identified several different types of headaches with unique causes and treatments. Some headaches may even be caused by injuries, such as a head or neck injury. In this blog, we’re taking a closer look into the many different types of headaches and learning how headaches may be caused by a neck injury.

Denver Integrated Spine Center is committed to your complete recovery. Serving patients in the Denver metro area, our multidisciplinary injury recovery center can get you back to your active lifestyle. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals specialize in chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, massage therapy, car accident care and recovery, and more. If you’re experiencing back pain, shoulder pain, headaches or migraines, or you’re recovering from a car accident or sports-related injury, our advanced chiropractic center can help. 

At Denver Integrated Spine Center, our entire office is committed to your recovery and we’ll be there to support you every step of the way.

A closer look at how neck injuries cause various types of headaches

There are numerous forms of headaches, and at some point in your life you may have experienced one form or another.

These conditions vary from migraines to tension, Vertebrogenic and Tension Headaches. In case you were wondering if a neck injury can cause a headache, you are right. A neck injury is a leading cause of various form of headache. A problem on your neck joint region can result in severe headache. Often, neck related headaches are mistaken for a migraine, yet they are still different health problems.

Neck injuries versus headaches

Your neck region has three spinal roots situated at the C1, C2, and C3. These roots share a nucleus with the trigeminal nerve, a fiber that draws messages from your brain to the face. The three spinal roots transmit nerve impulses towards the head region through the trigeminal-cervical tract. 

This is the region where pain signals registers. Pain begins from the midbrain particularly at the thalamus then spreads to the cortical part of the brain. The cortical and thalamus serve as the reference points when it comes defining various kinds of headache. These regions also determine the severity of the type of headache you may have. 

Some of the most common types of headaches include tension headaches, Vertebrogenic headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches. Headaches may also be caused by issues such as hormones, allergies, or too much caffeine.

Below are examples of how different forms of headaches occur:

Tension headache

Tension headache emanate from the suboccipital muscles situated at the base of the head. Suboccipital muscles form four pair muscles and function to facilitate movement of the skull at the vertebrae in the neck. When your suboccipital muscles become tender, they result in a headache. 

These muscles can become tense when you wear new spectacles, strain to view distant objects, or practice poor postures in the office. They can also be affected when you suffer from whiplash injury from a car accident or often grind your teeth. Tender suboccipital muscles may compress your nerves on the base of your skull which can, in turn, result in head pain.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches, as the name suggests, occur in clusters that can last for a matter of minutes or even hours. As one headache subsides, another quickly appears. Cluster headaches are characterized by a sharp, burning pain.

Vertebrogenic Headaches

Vertebrogenic headache, on the other hand, is the most common type of headache. This types of headaches can occur due to pain in the occipital region and neck. They emanate from the frontal-orbital region of your head.

Vertebrogenic headaches may also occur when you are experiencing degeneration of the cervical spine. You can often experience constant ache on either side of the head. These kinds of headache may also result from trauma, physical stress, or having poor posture.


Migraines do not occur due to neck pain, but they can be very painful and significantly impact your ability to get through your day. Migraines can last for hours—or even days—and often feel like a deep pulsing sensation coming from within your head. In severe cases, nausea or vomiting may also occur. However, while migraines aren’t caused directly by neck pain or a neck injury, if you experience a migraine, one of the symptoms you should look out for is neck pain and at times stiff neck.

How Do Chiropractors Treat Headaches? 

When suffering from a headache, your first instinct may be to quickly grab a bottle of Tylenol or some other pain reliever. While this might work as a quick fix to relieve pain, it fails to actually address the source of your headache. If you’re experiencing headaches caused by neck pain (or any other type of headache), you should consider visiting an experienced chiropractor to finally relieve that throbbing pain.

Chiropractic treatments have been proven to help patients experiencing headaches or migraines. Spinal manipulation is one of the most common techniques practiced by licensed chiropractors and can be effective at alleviating headache symptoms. With these common chiropractic adjustments, your chiropractor will carefully adjust the alignment of your spine. This works to alleviate the stress on your nervous system, which can negatively impact your entire body. Improved spinal function and positioning reduces the stress placed on your head and neck that can cause headaches. Chiropractic care can also treat neck injuries that may be causing your headaches.

Conclusion – Treating Headaches Caused by Neck Pain  

A problem in your neck could initiate a chain of activities which could result in severe headache. Fortunately, there is a treatment for any type of headache. Therefore, when you begin to get incredible pain in your head or neck region, it would be sensible for you to visit an experienced licensed chiropractor.

Headaches vary based on the side of the head the pain is coming from. When you visit your physician, they are be able to diagnose you accurately and put you on the right treatment. Making improvements on your postures and sitting positions can also play a significant role in minimizing your chances of getting any of these headaches.

If you are having headaches you need to see a professional right away. Denver Integrated Spine Center is a leading full-service chiropractic care serving patients in the greater Denver metro area. Our entire team is dedicated to your healthcare needs and recovery and we’ll help you every step of the way. If you’re recovering from a car accident or experiencing chronic pain, limited mobility, joint stiffness, or even headaches or migraines, our expert team can help you recover faster.

Contact us today or call us at 303-758-900 to schedule your initial consultation. Our chiropractic center specializes in personalized care using advanced treatment techniques to help you recover from injury, relieve pain, and get you back to the pain free life you love.

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