Neck pain and headaches cause and treatment with 4 exercises

Neck pain is a prevalent problem that is often accompanied by a stiff neck and headaches.

Often the stiff neck is the primary cause for neck pain and headaches.

And today I will show you how you can cure your neck pain and headaches with four exercises.

I’m also going to talk about neck pain at the base of your skull and the cause and treatment of a pinched nerve in your neck.

What you should know first is that a pinched nerve doesn’t cause headaches. A stiff neck and stiff muscles most often cause a headache.

A pinched nerve causes radiating pain and symptoms in your arm.

Here I’ll teach you what does cause a headache and how you can solve it by yourself.

For quick pain relief, you can use this anti-inflammatory cream. It reduces the tension of your neck muscles and make the exercises more effective.

So keep reading to learn more about all of this.

Today you will learn here:

neck pain exercises physical therapy

The anatomy of the neck

neck pain

So first I will teach you something about the anatomy of your neck. This way, you will understand the changes in your neck, which are the primary cause for your neck pain and stiff neck.

Your neck consists of 7 neck vertebrae. In the picture, you can see a vertebra from above.

The first vertebrae attach directly to the base of your skull.

Your spinous process is the bony part you can feel at the back of your neck.

The body is the part where your vertebra stack on top of each other.

In between the two body’s is your intervertebral disc located.

The second connection between two vertebrae are the articular facets. Cartilage covers both your intervertebral body and articular facets. This cartilage is essential for the mobility of your neck because these connections are the joints that make your neck able to move.

On the side of your neck, the two articular facets form the intervertebral foramen. That is the place where your nerves leave your neck. The vertebral foramen is the place where your spinal cord lies.

The arteries in your neck run through the transverse foramen.

Muscles that stabilize your neck also cover your neck. These muscles are essential for your neck pain treatment, which we’ll discuss later.

Now I’ve discussed the most critical parts of your neck. That will able me to explain to you the cause and treatment of your neck pain.

So let’s continue with the most common form of neck pain: A stiff neck.

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Neck pain, stiff neck, and headache causes

So the first neck pain problem I’ll discuss is the ordinary neck pain with a stiff neck.

There are typically two things that can happen here.

The first thing is that you wake up with a stiff neck. Three things can cause it:

  • Overuse
  • Stress
  • A bad mattress or pillow

The second thing that can happen is a sudden sting in your neck. It looks a little like throwing out your back.

In both cases, the problem lies in the connection between the two articular facets. Somehow one of these joints gets stuck or locked. It reduces the mobility of the joint.

What exactly happens is unknown until now.

What we do know is that the articular facet can cause pain which might radiate to the back of your head, the base of your skull or your shoulder.

The first three levels will radiate to the back of your head and might cause a headache there.  The other levels will radiate to your shoulder or even your upper arm and can cause pain there.

It also causes a stiff neck.

I’ll show you how to solve this later in this post.

When this problem stays longer and longer, the muscles in your neck start to cause pain as well. Because of your neck pain and stiff neck, these muscles become overused. You’re still trying to move your head but with higher resistance. It will increase the tension in your neck muscles.

That causes even more pain and eventually, a headache. You can feel this headache is in your forehead.

A stiff neck can also be one of the reasons for developing shoulder impingement syndrome and other shoulder pain problems.

Neck pain and stress

The second cause for a stiff neck is stress, overuse or a lousy pillow.

These three factors are all a form of overuse.

With all of these factors, your muscles have to do more than they can handle.

The overuse causes the muscles to tense up which will limit the mobility of your neck.

As a result, the mobility of the joints in your neck also reduces. That causes a vicious circle.

You will have to break this circle to relieve the pain in your neck.

So now I teach you exactly how you can solve your neck pain quickly by yourself with the following neck pain relief exercises.

So keep on reading. You’re almost there to solve your neck pain within a few weeks.

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Neck pain and stiff neck relief exercises home treatment

Our neck pain and stiff neck home treatment consist of 2 simple pain relief exercises.

You can do these two exercises easily at home. They don’t require any fancy equipment.

Neck pain exercise 1: Increasing the mobility of your neck

The first neck pain relief exercise will restore the movement of your neck.

When the mobility of your neck is improved again, the muscles have a chance to recover. It will relief your neck pain.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Wrap a towel around your neck
  • Take with your left hand the right side of the towel and with your right hand the left side
  • Now lift the hand that is in front up until the towel is at the same height as your cheek
  • Now pull with your arm and the towel your head in the full rotation to the side
  • Repeat this ten times and then change to the opposite side by changing your hands
  • Finally, grasp the towel normal and lift your arms and look up at the same time

You can see how to perform the exercise on this video.

Perform this exercise twice a day, both in the morning and in the evening.

As you can see, you can do it easily at your own home.

It might hurt in the beginning when you’re doing this exercise but in the days after the pain will be reduced along with the tension in your neck muscles.

neck pain exercise 1 improve the mobility of your neck

Neck pain exercise 2: Stretching your neck muscles

The second exercise is designed to stretch your neck muscles. The primary muscle that gets tight is your trapezius muscle. He is also the primary cause of a headache.

You can do this with the following exercise:

  • Place your hand on top of your head
  • Bend your neck sideways by pulling down your head
  • Also, rotate it a little bit to the same side
  • You will feel stretching of your trapezius on the other side
  • Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat it three times

You can see how to perform the exercise in this video.

Repeat this exercise twice a day. I would also advise you to do it on both sides since usually both sides are affected.

It is easy to do at home when you’re watching television.

These two exercises will usually solve your neck pain and stiff neck.

However, to keep your neck pain away, you have to get rid of the risk factors that caused your neck pain in the first place. Otherwise, your neck pain will be back very soon.

neck pain exercise 2 stretching your neck muscles

Neck pain exercise 3: Improving your posture

One of the things you can do is improving your posture.

Poor posture causes more stress on your neck and head. That is because of your posture, your head positions in front of your body.

Because of this, your neck and neck muscles have to work hard to prevent your head from falling. It is a form of overuse of your neck resulting in neck pain.

By doing the following exercise regularly, you can improve your posture against back pain and neck pain.

For proper posture, you need to pay attention to the following things when standing:

    • Place your body weight on the back of your feet
    • Slightly bend your knees
    • Pull your stomach in
    • Stretch up your chest
    • Lift your head

You can see how to perform the exercise in this video.

At first, it will feel weird because your body tells you it’s wrong. It will take two weeks of good practice to make it feel normal.

You can do this by continually correcting yourself on your posture. After a while, you will feel that you stand correctly without thinking about it.

It can also be tiring at first, but this will get over soon as well.

That is the primary treatment for neck pain.

Now I will tell you more about other forms of neck pain.

Neck pain and headache in the back of your head

Another location with neck pain is neck pain in the back of your head, at the base of your skull.

Problems in the facet joints also cause this type of neck pain. The difference is that the problem is located higher in your neck.

It is a typical sign of facet joint problems at the level of C2-C3.

As you can see in the picture, pain from this level radiates towards the back of your skull and even to the back of your head in the end.

reffered pain neck

Neck pain exercise 4: Pain relief at the base of your skull

To solve neck pain at the bottom of your skull and headache at the back of your head, you have to restore the mobility of your neck, just like with normal neck pain.

And also add the following neck pain exercise specially designed for treating neck pain at the base of your skull:

    • Place the towel in your neck right under the bump on your skullli>
    • Hold both ends of the towel horizontally
    • Now pull the towel forward
    • At the same time pull your chin in
    • Hold this for 5 seconds
    • repeat this ten times

You can see how to perform the exercise in this video.

hoofdpijn achterhoofd

Repeat this exercise twice a day. As the mobility of your neck increases, your headache will disappear.

Combine this exercise with the exercises I described earlier.

Neck pain and a headache in the front of your head

As I already mentioned before, your trapezius muscle is a leading cause for pain in your forehead.

When you have tension in these muscles, usually because of stress, they cause radiating pain into your forehead, also known as tension headache.

To solve this radiation, you have to stretch the muscles and also get rid of the stress and possible stiff neck.

To do this, you can perform the exercises described earlier.

Cervical radiculopathy causing a pinched nerve

pinched nerve neck

Another common and annoying neck pain cause is a pinched nerve. It is also known as cervical radiculopathy.

There can be several causes for a pinched nerve in your neck.

However, it all starts with degeneration of 1 of the following structures in your neck:

  • Intervertebral Disc
  • Facet Joint arthrosis
  • Thickening of the ligaments in your neck
  • Neck arthrosis

What happens is that somewhere the space for the nerves in your neck becomes too small.

As you get older, your intervertebral disc weakens, which makes it smaller.

Also, the cartilage covering your facet joints and vertebrae’s starts to disappear.

All of this makes your intervertebral foramen smaller. That is where your nerves leave your neck.

When space gets smaller, the nerve gets pinched here.

The second thing that can happen is that the ligaments that run through your vertebral foramen thicken, also due to degeneration.

The thickening narrows this vertebral foramen, also causing pressure on your nerves.

You can recognize a pinched nerve by pain and radiation in your arm. It might also cause weakness of usually one arm.

However, a pinched nerve never causes a headache. It is impossible because the nerves in your neck don’t run to your head. Therefore they can’t produce a headache.

Problems in both arms due to a pinched nerve in your neck is rare. When you have this, you should see a doctor first, before you start this treatment.

Pinched nerve in the neck treatment at home

Luckily with our pinched nerve treatment at home, you can relieve your symptoms with a few simple home exercises.

When you suffer from a pinched nerve in your neck, it’s essential to increase the space within your neck. It will reduce the pressure on the nerves.

These exercises won’t increase the quality of your intervertebral disc or restore the cartilage in your neck.

They make sure that the joints in your neck can move a little better again. That will increase the space, reducing the symptoms.

You can do this by performing the exercises I described earlier on this page. These exercises will increase the mobility of your neck, increasing the space in your neck.

And the best thing is that you can do them easily at home because you don’t need any fancy equipment.

You have to be aware of the fact that it can take a few weeks before you see results. It is because it is a difficult problem to solve.

If these exercises don’t work after a few weeks, you should see a doctor because you might need other treatment options in this case.

Neck pain when sleeping

Neck pain when sleeping is either caused by a stiff neck, stress, or poor posture.

That is what’s going on:

When you sleep, your neck remains in one position for an extended period. It reduces the mobility of your facet joints and also increases the tension in the muscles that are already overused.

It is something I’ve explained earlier already.

That is why you will get neck pain when sleeping.

You can easily overcome this by performing the two home exercises I’ve shown you already earlier on this page.

With these exercises, your neck pain when sleeping should disappear within a few weeks.

If this doesn’t help, you might need to buy a new pillow.

A standard pillow will live for about 2-3 years.

After this, it’s time to get a new one for proper head and neck support.

So when you suffer from neck pain, the exercises don’t work and you’re sleeping on a pillow that is older than three years, you know what you have to do:

Buy a new pillow.

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As you can see, you can solve most of your neck pain problems with our simple home exercises.

If, after all this information you still have questions left, you can always send me an e-mail.