What to Do If You Have Upper Back Pain and Headaches

Upper back pain and headaches

Upper back pain and headaches can significantly disrupt your everyday life. They can potentially limit what you can do, especially if they come together. It seems unlikely for backaches to occur with severe bouts of headaches. However, in truth, hundreds of patients report they have the two symptoms, influencing them to seek help from their primary doctors, therapists and upper cervical care doctors. 

Find out what you need to do when dealing with upper back pain and headaches as we take a closer look at what connects them.

What causes upper back pain and headaches to occur together?

Back pain and headaches can most certainly come together. And when they do, they can cause inconvenience and discomfort. Below are some of the usual reasons why these two symptoms appear simultaneously.

Poor body posture

Not many people pay attention to their body posture, believing that it has very little to do with one’s health and wellness. In truth, it can affect various body processes and serve as a risk factor for some health problems. Orthopedic practitioners share that body posture can influence things besides your self-esteem. The following can be affected by how you stand or sit:

  • The integrity of your spine’s structure and alignment
  • Your risk for developing constipation and acid reflux
  • Your muscle and joints, especially on your back, shoulders, arms, and legs
  • The severity of the pain you feel on your back and head
  • Your overall mood and mental wellbeing


While conceiving a child is one of the most beautiful and fascinating features of the female body, it also brings about health concerns. Notably, it can increase a woman’s risk of experiencing headaches and back pain. 

Studies explain that upper back pain can develop during pregnancy because of the massive changes in a woman’s body structure. The muscles and joints must adjust to keep up with the growing child and prepare the body for childbirth.  

On the one hand, a medical review notes that about 39 percent of women experience headaches during and after their pregnancy. Some experience tension headaches or cluster headaches, while others report migraine attacks. 

Underlying health condition

Back pain and headaches can occur together if you have an underlying disease or disorder. One example would be fibromyalgia, a chronic nervous system disorder that affects 4 million adults in the USA. This condition can cause varying symptoms, including headaches, back pain, sleeping problems, and fatigue.    

Besides fibromyalgia, here are other possible health problems that may cause both headaches and upper back pain:

  • Brain aneurysm
  • Arthritis
  • Degenerative disc diseases
  • Irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Infections
  • Migraine attacks

Previous Injury to the Neck

Did you know that several patients who suffered a neck injury develop upper back pain and headaches? If you previously hurt your neck or head during a car collision, a sports-related accident, and other similar events, you might have developed cervical subluxation. 

The sheer force from an accident often overextends the neck joints and muscles and causes the upper neck bones to move by a few millimeters. Unfortunately, the resulting imbalance in your neck’s alignment can trigger a laundry list of problems, including back pain and headaches.

Upper back pain and headaches


How To Cope When You Have Headaches and an Achy Back

Having both an achy back and frequent headaches can leave you frustrated and miserable. Fortunately, some remedies can potentially address the most likely causes of your two debilitating symptoms. Here are some of the proven options you can try:

Cold or hot compress

Applying cold or heat proves a simple yet effective remedy for upper back pain and headaches. The only trick is to know when to use heat and cold to manage the pain and reduce inflammation. 

Massage therapy

A relaxing massage can make a significant difference in your spine and back muscle health. It can also help you alleviate recurring headaches because it calms the nerves and eases body tension.  

OTC pain medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers and muscle relaxants might provide you with short-term relief from your symptoms. 

Upper cervical care

This chiropractic technique is a great option to try, especially if you previously injured your head or neck. It aims to correct positional distortions so your brain can transmit signals correctly. 

Enough quality sleep

Good quality sleep can work wonders for many health issues, including headaches and achy back. That’s why we highly recommend working on your sleep hygiene and investing in helpful things like a firm mattress and memory foam pillow.

Work On Your Upper Back Pain and Headaches with Upper Cervical Care

Indeed, it’s challenging to have two recurring symptoms like headaches and back pain. But that doesn’t mean that you have to accept your fate and settle for a life of constant pain and suffering. We hope our in-depth discussion above clarifies what you need to do when you experience these two symptoms. 

If you need additional help resolving your ailments, we suggest scheduling your appointment with an upper cervical chiropractic practitioner. This way, a neck chiropractor can examine your neck for C1 and C2 misalignment and provide gentle adjustments to correct the issue.  

Upper back pain, headaches, and upper cervical chiropractic are interconnected. Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on the alignment and function of the upper cervical spine, which can impact headaches and upper back pain. Research and articles suggest that upper cervical chiropractic care can help alleviate various types of headaches, including tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches.

  • A study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found that upper cervical chiropractic care was associated with a significant reduction in cervicogenic headache frequency, intensity, and duration.
  • Another source highlights how upper cervical chiropractic can help relieve cluster headaches by gently and precisely adjusting the upper cervical spine.
  • Furthermore, it is noted that tension headaches can be treated with upper cervical chiropractic by precisely adjusting the upper cervical spine, addressing the impact of misalignments on surrounding muscles and nerves.

These findings suggest that upper cervical chiropractic care may offer a personalized and non-invasive approach to addressing upper back pain and headaches.

It's never too late to try a whole new approach to healing. Say goodbye to upper back pain and headaches with the help of an upper cervical specialist near you!

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

Find an Upper Cervical Specialist In Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.