What are the Most Common Causes of Head and Neck Pain?

Rhonda Rivera
Rhonda Rivera
An ice pack, which can help with head and neck pain.
An ice pack, which can help with head and neck pain.

Some of the most common causes of head and neck pain are not related to serious diseases, and are easily treatable. Stressed muscles are usually the cause of the pain, which in turn is caused by over-activity or holding the head in a certain position for a long time. Another very common cause of head and neck pain is emotional rather than physical stress. Feeling stressed at work or school can lead to physical pain that lingers.

Head pain is often associated with injury.
Head pain is often associated with injury.

Over-activity is something all muscles are vulnerable to. Playing a sport, performing a new exercise, or just being more active than usual can stress the muscles enough to cause hurt. Relieving this type of head and neck pain can be done with an ice pack or heating pad. It is also important to rest the stressed muscles, meaning the person should not immediately go back to performing the activity that stressed him or her. Heavy lifting and any twisting of the neck and back should be avoided for about six weeks.

Doctors recommend using heating pads to soothe the neck pain caused by whiplash and neck arthritis.
Doctors recommend using heating pads to soothe the neck pain caused by whiplash and neck arthritis.

Feeling stressed, over financial situations or the death of a loved one for example, can cause a person to tense their muscles. Often, the person has no idea that his or her muscles were being tensed until noticing the pain. This type of pain is very similar to the pain caused by over-activity because the muscles are also stressed in this situation. The same methods can be used to relieve pain, but finding ways to relieve stress can go a long way to preventing more pain.

Work stress can lead to head and neck pain.
Work stress can lead to head and neck pain.

Holding the head in an awkward position for a long period of time is an almost guaranteed way to experience head and neck pain. It is not always obvious that the person is holding his or her head in a less-than-ideal position, however. For example, looking at a computer monitor or book that is too low or high can cause pain. In these situations, the person is often staring at the object for an extended period of time and may not realize the stress they are placing on their neck until they move from that position.

Over-the-counter medications can provide relief from head and neck pain.
Over-the-counter medications can provide relief from head and neck pain.

In addition to an ice pack or heating pad, a person suffering from head and neck pain may find relief with over-the-counter pain medications. Being careful to avoid the initial pain trigger, such as heavy lifting and heavy exercise, can speed up recovery. Sleeping with a pillow that allows the person to lie comfortably with the spine in a neutral position can also help relieve and prevent pain.

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    • An ice pack, which can help with head and neck pain.
      By: Marc Dietrich
      An ice pack, which can help with head and neck pain.
    • Head pain is often associated with injury.
      By: Picture-Factory
      Head pain is often associated with injury.
    • Doctors recommend using heating pads to soothe the neck pain caused by whiplash and neck arthritis.
      By: nito
      Doctors recommend using heating pads to soothe the neck pain caused by whiplash and neck arthritis.
    • Work stress can lead to head and neck pain.
      By: Danilo Rizzuti
      Work stress can lead to head and neck pain.
    • Over-the-counter medications can provide relief from head and neck pain.
      By: shefkate
      Over-the-counter medications can provide relief from head and neck pain.