Pain in Side of Head and Neck: Causes and Remedies

Dealing with pain in the side of your head and neck can be a real headache. It can disrupt your daily activities and leave you searching for answers. In this blog, we will explore the causes behind these painful sensations and provide you with effective remedies to find relief. From understanding the symptoms of cervicogenic headaches to diagnosing the root cause, we will delve into every aspect of this condition. Additionally, we will discuss various treatment options including physiotherapy, medications, nerve blocks, and more. We will also touch upon potential complications and provide insights into other types of headaches. Don’t let the pain hold you back any longer – let’s tackle it head-on together!


What causes cervicogenic headache?

Cervicogenic headaches occur when there are problems in the neck, such as muscle tension, joint issues, or nerve compression. Factors like poor posture, whiplash injuries, or degenerative conditions can contribute to these headaches. Treatment may involve physiotherapy, medication, and lifestyle adjustments to target the root causes.

Diagnosing cervicogenic headache

Diagnosing cervicogenic headache requires an extensive assessment of its root causes. A thorough review of the patient’s medical history is essential to identify any past neck injuries or degenerative conditions affecting the cervical spine. A comprehensive physical examination, with a focus on the neck region, helps pinpoint muscle tension, joint dysfunction, or nerve irritation as potential contributory factors. In certain instances, imaging tests like MRI or CT scans may be utilized to evaluate the structural integrity of the cervical spine. The diagnostic process aims to differentiate cervicogenic headaches from other types of head pain, taking into consideration specific symptoms, trigger points, and pain patterns.

Treatment for cervicogenic headache

Cervicogenic headaches, characterized by throbbing pain in the side of the head and neck, can be effectively managed through various treatment approaches. The first step in managing cervicogenic headaches is identifying the underlying cause, which could be muscle tension, joint dysfunction, or nerve irritation in the neck. Once the cause is determined, treatment options may include physiotherapy, chiropractic adjustments, or massage therapy to address the source of pain. In addition, pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to provide temporary relief. Lifestyle changes, such as improving posture, incorporating regular exercise, practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, and avoiding triggers like caffeine, can help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. In some cases, medical interventions such as injections or nerve blocks may be recommended to alleviate pain. It’s important to work closely with a healthcare professional to develop an individualized treatment plan for cervicogenic headaches.



physiotherapy plays a crucial role in addressing pain in the side of the head and neck, commonly associated with cervicogenic headaches. This treatment option aims to enhance the strength and flexibility of the neck and shoulder muscles, helping to alleviate throbbing and tension headaches. In collaboration with a physical therapist, individuals may receive prescribed exercises and stretches to specifically target the affected areas, promoting relaxation techniques and reducing muscle stiffness. Manual therapy techniques, such as massage and joint mobilization, are also employed to provide relief, improving blood circulation and reducing inflammation in the neck muscles. By incorporating physiotherapy alongside other interventions like medication, nerve blocks, and lifestyle modifications, individuals can find effective pain relief and enhance their overall well-being.


For headache pain in the side of the head and neck, medications can offer much-needed relief. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, work by reducing inflammation and alleviating throbbing head pain. Muscle relaxants, meanwhile, target tense neck muscles to help ease discomfort. In some cases, antidepressants may be prescribed to manage the chronic pain associated with these headaches. If you’re dealing with these symptoms, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any medication regimen. Remember, effective treatment starts with expert guidance.

Nerve blocks

Nerve blocks are a frequently used treatment for cervicogenic headaches, which are headaches originating from the neck. In this procedure, a local anesthetic is injected into specific neck nerves, numbing the area and providing relief from pain. By reducing inflammation and relieving muscle tension in the neck, nerve blocks can effectively address the underlying causes of cervicogenic headaches. The effects of a nerve block can last for weeks or even months, delivering prolonged relief from headache symptoms. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to assess whether nerve blocks are suitable for your specific medical history and condition.

Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure utilized for the treatment of cervicogenic headaches, which are headaches that originate from the neck area. This procedure involves the insertion of a small needle near the affected nerves in the neck. By utilizing heat energy, lesions are created on the nerves, thereby interrupting the pain signals they transmit. Radiofrequency ablation has proven to be effective in providing long-lasting relief from cervicogenic headaches. Many patients experience relief for an extended period, ranging from several months to even years. This procedure is performed under local anesthesia and boasts a low risk of complications.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a non-invasive treatment option for cervicogenic headaches, which are headaches that originate from the neck. TENS works by delivering low-level electrical currents to the affected area, helping to relieve pain and reduce muscle tension. By stimulating the nerves and promoting the release of endorphins, TENS serves as a natural painkiller for individuals experiencing cervicogenic headaches. TENS devices, consisting of electrodes and a battery-operated device, are placed on the skin near the site of pain. Consultation with a healthcare professional is crucial before using TENS as a treatment, allowing for proper assessment, guidance, and settings to be provided.


Neuromodulation, a treatment option for cervicogenic headaches, targets and stimulates nerves in the neck and head using electrical impulses. This method aims to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation in the affected area. Neuromodulation can be administered through various methods, such as implanted or external devices. Consulting a healthcare professional will help determine if neuromodulation suits your specific condition and symptoms effectively. It’s crucial to explore this treatment along with other options to find relief from cervicogenic headaches.

Home remedies

Home remedies can provide relief for pain in the side of the head and neck. Applying heat or cold packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and meditation, can help alleviate muscle tension in the neck and head. Maintaining good posture and avoiding activities that strain the neck, such as prolonged computer use or carrying heavy bags, can prevent further discomfort. Engaging in regular exercise, such as stretching or practicing yoga, can improve flexibility and strengthen the neck muscles. Over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can offer temporary relief, but it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to address the underlying cause of the pain.

Complications from cervicogenic headache

Cervicogenic headaches, characterized by pain in the side of the head and neck, can lead to various complications that can significantly impact your daily life. The throbbing sensation can be overwhelming and hinder your ability to concentrate and perform regular activities. The severity of these headaches can range from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain. In addition to the pain, individuals may experience symptoms such as nausea, neck pain, scalp tenderness, and stiffness. Seeking medical attention is crucial for proper diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan. Healthcare professionals may recommend physiotherapy, chiropractic adjustments, medication, or lifestyle modifications to manage the pain and reduce the frequency of headaches.

When to worry about a headache

If you experience throbbing or persistent pain in the side of head and neck, it is important to pay attention to the severity and frequency of your headaches. While tension headaches, migraines, and tension-type headaches are common causes of head and neck pain, there are instances when a headache may indicate a more serious condition such as cluster headache, arthritis, neuralgia, or chronic pain. If you are experiencing severe headaches accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, seizures, neck stiffness, or tenderness in the neck muscles, it is crucial to seek medical attention. Additionally, if the intensity or frequency of your headaches increases or if they are interfering with your daily activities, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and diagnosis. Secondary key terms include

  • blood vessels
  • md
  • back of the head
  • aura
  • rebound headaches
  • overuse
  • aspirin
  • acupuncture
  • lumbar
  • back pain
  • stiff neck
  • weight loss
  • medication overuse
  • lack of sleep
  • high blood pressure

Types of headaches

Headaches, including tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, and sinus headaches, can cause pain in various areas of the head and neck. Tension headaches, which are commonly caused by stress or muscle tension, manifest as a dull, aching pain in the scalp or neck. Migraines, on the other hand, are characterized by severe throbbing pain on one side of the head and can be accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances. Cluster headaches, less common but more intense, often result in severe pain localized around one eye or temple. Sinus headaches, caused by inflammation or congestion in the sinuses, typically cause pain in the forehead, cheeks, and areas around the eyes.

Tension headaches

Tension headaches, also known as tension-type headaches, are a prevalent type of headache that can cause a dull, aching pain on both sides of the head and neck. These headaches are often triggered by muscle tension and stress, leading to discomfort and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. In addition to the pain, tension headaches may be accompanied by symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. To alleviate tension headaches, individuals can try various methods, including over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, relaxation techniques like yoga or massage, and applying heat or cold packs to the affected area. It is important to note that if tension headaches persist or worsen, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


Migraine headaches are a common cause of pain in the side of the head and neck. These severe headaches often come with throbbing pain on one side of the head and symptoms like nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances. Migraines can be triggered by stress, certain foods or drinks, hormonal changes, and disrupted sleep patterns. Effective treatment options for migraines include over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications like triptans, and lifestyle changes to avoid triggers. Relaxation techniques, such as massage or yoga, can also help in relieving migraine symptoms. It is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for personalized treatment if you experience frequent or severe migraines.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are a specific type of headache characterized by severe and excruciating pain on one side of the head, typically around the eye area. Along with the intense pain, cluster headaches can also cause pain in the neck and face, tearing of the eye, nasal congestion, and restlessness. The exact cause of cluster headaches is not fully understood, but experts believe it is related to abnormalities in the hypothalamus, which regulates sleep and other bodily functions. Treatment options for cluster headaches include medications to prevent or reduce the frequency of attacks, as well as medications for pain relief during an attack. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and management of cluster headaches.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common causes of pain in the side of the head and neck?

Common causes of pain in the side of the head and neck include tension headaches, migraines, muscle tension or strain in the neck, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. These conditions can result in localized or radiating pain.

Where can I find physiotherapy near me?

To find physiotherapy near you, utilize online directories such as Healthgrades, Zocdoc, and Yelp. You can also ask for recommendations from your primary care physician or friends/family. Additionally, check if local hospitals or healthcare networks offer their own physiotherapy departments.

Where can I find sports massage near me?

You can locate sports massage near your location by utilizing online directories or search engines like Google. Check websites like Yelp or TripAdvisor for reviews and recommendations. Local fitness centers, gyms, and sports clubs may offer these services, and asking for referrals from friends, family, or healthcare professionals can also be helpful.


In conclusion, understanding the causes and remedies for pain in the side of your head and neck is crucial for finding relief and improving your quality of life. Whether it’s a cervicogenic headache or another type of headache, knowing when to seek medical attention and exploring various treatment options can make a significant difference. From physiotherapy to medications, nerve blocks to home remedies, there are several approaches available to help alleviate your pain. Don’t let headaches hold you back any longer. Take control of your health and explore the solutions that work best for you. To learn more about different types of headaches and their treatments, read our informative blog on understanding headaches and finding relief.

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