Neck Pain and Headaches

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Neck Pain and Headaches

If you are reading this, you are most likely experiencing neck pain, headaches, or a combination of the two. The symptoms associated with neck pain and headaches can be quite debilitating, especially when you do not know why you are experiencing your pain and if you do not know what to do about it.

Luckily there are highly skilled and very caring Physical Therapists in Huntingdon Valley that want to help you, not only with your symptoms, but in understanding why you are experiencing your neck pain and headache.

Impact of Neck Pain and Headaches

If you are experiencing neck pain or headaches, you are not alone! Nearly 70% of the world’s population will have neck pain at some point in their adult lives. Despite differences in individual studies, virtually of the research agrees that neck pain is quite common and is increasing worldwide.¹

On the other hand, headaches are even more prevalent with nearly 75% of adults reporting they have had a headache in the past year. And even worse, 4% of these headaches last 15 or more days per month.²

And when symptoms of neck pain and headaches are combined, there is even a higher prevalence, especially with migraines, tension type headaches, and whiplash injuries.¹ ³

Whether you have experienced, or are currently experiencing neck pain and headaches, you know the struggle of having to complete normal daily activities. Looking side to side to check your blind spot, using the computer, reading, playing with your kids or pets, or even trying to get a good night sleep can be frustrating.⁴

Simple tasks seem daunting and nearly impossible. Even small movements, lights, or noises may worsen your symptoms. If this is you, you are not alone and there are Physical Therapists that can help you!

Causes of Neck Pain and Headaches

Neck pain and headaches can be caused by a variety of different reasons. Simply straining the muscles of your neck can lead to pain, guarding, and ultimately tension and pain in your head.

To better understand why you may be experiencing neck pain or headaches, here is a list of common causes:

Overuse, especially with poor posture or bad ergonomics while working at a desk and with a computer. This leads to significant tightening and weakness of the muscles and joints of your neck and compression of nerves that go to your head or down your arms.

Strain or sprain of your muscles or ligaments, commonly found in whiplash disorders, such as being involved in a motor vehicle accident or a sporting injury.

Disc herniations which can occur naturally as we age or as a result of an injury or overuse. As the disc herniates it can compress nerves or other structures in the neck, causing pain.

Nerve impingements which can also be a result of overuse, injury, or disc herniations. Depending on the nerves that are impinged, you may feel pain into your head, face, neck, or arms.

Osteoarthritis, which is a more technical name for arthritis, is associated with inflammation and possibly degeneration of the joint. Most people know this as “wear and tear.” Even though it may also be a natural course of aging, there are things you can do to decrease the pain associated with arthritis.

Tension Headaches are headaches that are described as a tight band around the forehead. These headaches can come on with stress and with strain of the neck.

Cervicogenic Headaches are headaches that come on with tightness and compression in the upper neck region. This compression can impact the nerves that go into your head, causing pain and headaches.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of neck pain or headaches, you may have one of these underlying causes. In order to be able to help resolve your pain, you need to be able take care of the root problem. Our Huntingdon Valley based Physical Therapists are fully equipped to help you recover from whatever sort of injury and pain you may be experiencing.

How can Physical Therapy help?

Without appropriate treatment, at least 50% of people that experience neck pain will continue to experience pain or reoccurrence of their symptoms.⁵

Physical Therapists have extensive training in the human body and how everything moves and works together. With our education and experience, we can fully assess not just your symptoms, but how you are moving throughout your normal daily life and where you are limited. Then with this information we can create a plan of care.

Physical Therapy is considered a conservative treatment.

To treat neck pain and headaches our Physical Therapists use:

  • Use highly skilled manual therapy to loosen tight muscles and joint and to decrease pain
  • Educate you on improving posture and body mechanics
  • Prescribe appropriate exercise and movement to help you recover
  • Use Class IV laser for pain and inflammation

There are so many benefits to conservative treatment:

Physical Therapy has no adverse side effects compared to medications, injections and surgeries. It is safe and effective

The cost is also a huge benefit as conservative treatment is much less expensive compared to other types of medical treatments.

Most importantly, conservative treatment, especially when done through Physical Therapy, teaches you how you can manage your own symptoms, it makes you independent in your treatment. So, if you start to feel the onset or reoccurrence of symptoms later on down the road, you have the tools to “nip it in the bud” before it becomes fully aggravated.

Other forms of treatment include medications or epidural injections. While these may seem like a quick and easy fix, they may leave you worse off than when you started treatment. First off, someone who chooses one of these options for treatment may become reliant on the medications or injections. Meaning, you never truly understand the root cause of your pain and therefore you always need help from external sources.

The risk of medications, especially pain medication, is becoming well known. Nearly 30% of opioid users misuse them and 12% become addicted and rely on this pain medication to get through the day. As this risk is being presented to the general public, more people are opting for injections, especially epidural steroid injections. While they are less addicting than pain medication, they still have their own risks.

Risks of injections, especially epidural steroid injections include the possibility of infection, dural puncture, bleeding, and nerve damage.

Knowing the risks associated with medication and injections, it makes sense to try conservative, Physical Therapy treatment first. It is low cost, has essentially zero risk, and is easily individualized to every patient.

If you are experiencing neck pain, headaches, or a combination of the two, don’t wait any longer, see how our highly trained Huntingdon Valley Physical Therapists can help you today! Call and schedule an appointment now!


  1. Neck Pain: Revision 2017
  2. Headache Disorders
  3. Prevalence of neck pain in migraine and tension-type headache: A population study
  4. Trends in diagnosis of painful neck and back conditions, 2002 to 2011
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