ZocdocAnswersWhy am I getting headaches and a stiff neck every day?

Question

Why am I getting headaches and a stiff neck every day?

I am a 26 year old female, with no history of migraines, though I have family members that get them often. For the past 8 months, at least, I have been having near constant headaches followed by a stiff neck and regular neck and shoulder pain. I didn't typically get headaches a lot before this. Over the counter pain killers (Aleve, Ibuprofen) doesn't seem to help at all anymore. What can cause this? Should I be seeing a doctor for this?

Answer

Migraine is a very common form of headache, usually characterized by pain, usually pulsatile and usually on just one side of the head, often with nausea or visual changes as well. Migraine does not typically include stiff neck and shoulder pain. This would be more typical of tension headache, and so I think that is probably what is going on in your case. Tension headache is by far the most common type of headache, and it is associated with fatigue, stress, and poor posture (for example, stooping over in front of a computer all day). As a result, the best treatments for tension headache include getting good rest, eating well, and exercising regularly. All of these reduce your stress levels and allow your muscles to stretch out. It is also helpful to pay attention to your posture, especially at work, as this is a major contributor in certain jobs. Another possibility would be analgesic headache. This is a type of rebound headache common in those with tension headache. What happens is that basically large chronic amounts of painkillers can actually cause a headache. So, sometimes, stopping all pain killers is a necessary part of treating the headache. Talk to your primary care doctor for more ideas and help.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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