Neck and Lower Back Pain with Headache: Important Things to Know

neck and lower back pain with headache

Having severe neck and lower back pain with a headache might force you to lay still on the bed even though you have a deadline that needs to be done.

According to medical statistics, at least 10% of adult people suffer from neck stiffness at any given time. Moreover, having a neck and lower back pain with a headache might get things to go downhill even further.

 

Possible causes of neck and lower back pain with a headache at the same time

Although these causes may be exact, a further diagnosis such as physical examination, skull x-ray, and detailed medical history is highly required to determine the actual cause.

1. A tension-type headache

Tension-Type headaches are the most common type of headache. This problem often perceived as a pain pressing on both sides. Usually lays around the forehead, back of the head, neck, and radiating along the back.

A tension-type headache can occur at regular intervals or chronically. One occurrence can last from 30 minutes to 1 week.

Although intermittent tension headache is usually not a real problem, a recurring occurrence and, lingering pain often severely restricts the quality of life of those who affected.

Unfortunately, the exact cause has not yet been sufficiently clarified. But many neurologists used to assume that this type of headache is the direct result of a tense neck, shoulder muscles, and a disturbance of the pain-processing system.

However, bad strains and muscular tension can be the trigger of a tension-type headache, just like psychological stress. Genetic factors seem to play a small role.

 

2. Cervical spine herniated disks

The occurrence of neck and lower back pain with a headache might be associated with damaged cervical spine due to injury.

A herniated disk is a breakthrough of the gel-like substances in the core of a spinal disc between vertebrae. As a result, it can press on nerves and trigger pain.

If the herniated disk occurs in the cervical spine, then the pain may feel in the back of the head, neck, and a tingling sensation running down towards the legs.

An accident such as injury when doing sport, work, or car crash can contribute to damaged cervical disks.

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3. Migraine

A migraine headache is often perceived as severe pain which is generally located to one side of the head.

This complaint is more often reported by women than men. According to the research results of the WHO, of the total human population aged 18-65 years, about 30 percent is experiencing a migraine headache.

In some people, the attacks may occur only a few times a year. However, in other cases, migraine sufferers may occur up to several times a week.

In some instances, pain can appear on either side of the head and even radiating towards the neck.

 

4. Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord (meninges). A virus often causes the disease, but in some cases can be caused by bacteria or fungus.

Some of the typical sign of inflammation of the membranes of the brain include headaches, fever, and stiff neck. Although some cases can recover in a few weeks, untreated meningitis can be life-threatening.

As mentioned above, the symptoms of meningitis such as; fever, headaches, and stiff neck are the most common occurrence.

However, back pain is one of the less common symptoms of meningitis that linked to neck and lower back pain followed by a headache, as published in Verywellhealth.

This specific symptom of meningitis is also more noticeable and usually caused by the bacteria, rather than the virus type of the infection.

Moreover, back pain caused by meningitis is typically getting worse when sleeping in a fetal position (bending the legs to the chest).

 

Some of the things you can do to alleviate neck and lower back pain, followed by a headache:

  • Sufficient sleep and rest
  • Reduce stress
  • Eat healthy and balanced nutritious food
  • Drink enough water every day, approximately 1.5 L in a day
  • Doing routine exercise, especially aerobic ones, such as walking or jogging, at least 20-30 minutes in a day or three times a week
  • Do a light massage on the neck and back to improve the blood circulation to the muscles and reducing muscle tension
  • When a headache is very distracting, you can also do a pain relief medication such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen.

 

To get the exact cause of the neck and lower back pain with headache, consult to a medical doctor is a must. They will give you inquiries about your symptoms, medical history, and perform a complete physical examination.

These include the examination of nerve function and some complimentary test that may be done to ensure the diagnosis such as complete blood check, electrolytes, CT-scan, or MRI of the head when needed.

 

Resources:

  • VerywellHealth: Symptoms of Meningitis. https://www.verywellhealth.com/meningitis-symptoms-297083
  • Mayfield Clinic: Cervical herniated disks. https://mayfieldclinic.com/pe-hcdisc.htm