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Neck pain is one of the most common complaints we hear from patients. While the pain can sometimes be localized to a specific area, many people experience radiating neck pain that can travel up to the head. This can be especially concerning and can cause worry about the cause of the pain and whether or not it’s serious.

Here are 8 common causes of neck pain that radiates to the head:

1. Pinched nerve

A pinched nerve in your neck can cause pain that radiates to your head. This is often caused by inflammation or irritation of the nerve, which can be caused by a herniated disc or bone spurs.

2. Whiplash

Whiplash is a common cause of neck pain that radiates to the head. It’s caused by trauma to the neck, often from a car accident or a sports-related injury. The impact of the trauma can cause inflammation, pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.

3. Muscle strain

Doing too much too soon or muscle fatigue can cause strain and tension in the neck, which can radiate to the head. This can be particularly common in people who sit for long periods of time in a work setting.

4. Poor posture

Poor posture, such as slouching or keeping your head in an unnatural position for too long, can cause muscle strain and tension in your neck, leading to neck pain that radiates to your head.

5. Stress

Emotional or physical stress can cause tension in the neck and shoulder muscles, which can lead to pain that radiates to the head. This is why it’s important to take time to relax and de-stress.

6. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis of the neck can cause neck pain that radiates to the head. This is caused by degeneration of the joints in the neck and can be fairly common in people over the age of 50.

7. Cervicogenic headache

A cervicogenic headache is a type of headache that originates from a problem in the neck. It can cause pain that radiates to the head, as well as pain in the neck itself.

8. Cervical spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is a condition caused by wear and tear of the joints in the neck. It can cause pain and stiffness in the neck, as well as radiating pain to the head.

For many people, neck pain that radiates to the head is not serious and can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes such as improving posture and relieving stress. However, it’s important to talk to doctor if your neck pain is persistent or severe, or if you are experiencing other symptoms such as dizziness or numbness.