Head and neck pain are quite common, but that doesn’t mean you should tolerate it. Chronic neck pain, neck tightness and frequent headaches are not only uncomfortable; symptoms like these can interfere with your work, family life and overall enjoyment. Many people seek temporary relief with NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but these remedies only mask the symptoms, they don’t treat the problem. Over the long term, daily use of NSAIDs can cause their own problems, such as weakened neck and shoulder muscles, liver damage, stomach ulcers or worse.
The structure of the neck is very complex. Seven vertebrae in the neck move in tandem and independently to facilitate the movement and flexibility that occurs in a healthy and properly functioning structure. The neck is also a kind of conduit for the thickest part of the spinal cord, which runs from the body to your brain. Finally, the head and neck are primarily responsible for your ability to balance your entire body. Now you can hopefully understand why chronic neck pain and headaches should never be ignored.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain typically is caused by a limited group of common problems. Since the neck is where blood vessels link through to your head, pain and tightness can cause spasms of the arteries around the nerves of the neck and head. One or more of these things may be responsible for your neck pain.
Poor posture can contribute to head and neck pain because when one slouches or tenses up certain areas of the head and neck, the related tendons tend to contract. This contraction can become almost permanent, and the resulting strain on adjacent muscles and tendons leads to chronic pain.
Trauma from car accidents, falls or other accidents can bruise muscles and bones, or even knock vertebrae out of alignment. This condition can be extremely painful and for some patients it’s hard to imagine being pain-free again. With proper physical therapy, patients can fully recover from headache and neck pain caused by trauma.
Poor circulation stemming from a primary cause such as diabetes can lead to extreme neck pain and severe headaches. Though many people think that the pain, tingling or numbness is causing the pain, it’s actually the reverse. Lack of proper blood flow can cause these symptoms in the head and neck area, as well as the arms, hands and fingers. One common sign that you have poor circulation is if you seem to always have cold hands or feet. If you visit with one of our physical therapists and it’s determined that you have poor circulation, we can work closely with your primary physician to ensure that the primary cause is being treated along with the symptoms.
Chronic Headaches and Neck Pain Are Treatable
The good news is that no matter what the specific cause or causes of your chronic headaches and neck pain, the condition is treatable. You don’t need to suffer from the severe and bothersome pain associated with these issues. Whether you have pain due to poor posture, trauma, poor circulation or something else, you can soon have relief. All you need to do is contact us today to have one of our licensed physical therapists do a comprehensive, non-invasive examination. After that, we will likely be able to pinpoint the root cause of your neck pain or headaches, treat it and teach you how to prevent it from returning. Call Optimal Rehab OT & PT today to get started on the road to recovery.