A headache, along with neck pain, dizziness, and fatigue, can be debilitating. These symptoms can develop as a result of cervical headaches and migraine.

They can also occur alongside more severe conditions.

This article explores the potential triggers of headaches with dizziness, fatigue, and neck pain, along with their treatment options. It also outlines tips for preventing these symptoms and when to consult a doctor.

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There can be several reasons for a headache with neck pain, dizziness, and fatigue.

Cervical headache

A cervical headache, or cervicogenic headache, is a type of long-term or chronic headache due to structural issues with parts of the cervical spine, including the vertebrae, disc, muscle, or spinal cord. The cervical spine is the section of the spine that includes the neck.

Cervical spine damage can occur due to:

  • injury resulting from accidents or surgery
  • compression fractures
  • a herniated disk
  • inflammation of the spinal cord
  • general neck strain due to posture issues

A cervical headache may cause pain on one side of the head. The pain can radiate from the neck or back of the head and extend to the front of the head or behind the eye. Other possible symptoms include:


A doctor can usually diagnose cervical headaches by examining the neck and assessing the spine using medical imaging techniques.

The treatment will depend on the underlying cause, with options that include:

  • pain relievers to ease neck pain and headaches
  • physiotherapy to restore function and improve neck movement
  • surgery to correct issues with the cervical spine
  • nerve blocks to treat specific areas of pain


Migraine is a moderate or severe throbbing headache that usually occurs on one side of the head. Neck pain is a very common symptom of neck pain. A person may also experience additional symptoms, such as:

  • increased sensitivity to light or sounds
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting

The exact cause of migraine remains unknown. However, experts believe that the following factors may play a role:

  • changes in brain chemicals
  • changes to the nerves and blood vessels inside the brain
  • genetic factors


Although there is no cure for migraine, certain treatments can help reduce the symptoms, including:

Cerebral aneurysm

An aneurysm refers to a bulging portion of a blood vessel. This occurs due to a weakness in the blood vessel wall. An aneurysm within a blood vessel in the brain is known as a cerebral aneurysm.

A small cerebral aneurysm that does not increase in size might not come with any symptoms. However, larger aneurysms may put pressure on the surrounding nerves or brain tissue, which can trigger the following symptoms:

  • pain above and behind the eye
  • changes in vision
  • a dilated pupil in the eye
  • paralysis on one side of the face
  • numbness
  • weakness

In some cases, an aneurysm may leak or rupture, which requires emergency medical attention. Symptoms to look out for include:


According to the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS), not all aneurysms require treatment. Sometimes, a doctor may recommend monitoring them for signs of growth.

NINDS recommends people take the following steps to help reduce the risk of a ruptured aneurysm:

Some people may require surgery to reduce or cut off blood supply to the aneurysm.

Cervical artery dissection

Cervical artery dissection is a tear in the wall of the arteries in the neck. The cervical arteries consist of the carotid artery and the vertebral artery.

The carotid artery supplies the front of the brain. When there is a tear in the carotid artery, a person may experience:

  • headaches
  • neck pain
  • facial pain
  • pulsating tinnitus
  • problems with vision, such as temporary vision loss or shimmering lights
  • drooping eyelid

Vertebral artery dissection is a tear in the wall of the artery that supplies blood to the back of the brain. It can also cause headache and neck pain, alongside:

  • vertigo
  • facial numbness
  • hoarse voice
  • difficulty swallowing
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • difficulty with balance
  • loss of taste

Both cervical and vertebral artery dissection increase the risk of stroke in younger adults. Cervical artery dissection is a common cause of stroke in those younger than 50 years.

A stroke is a potentially life threatening condition where the blood supply to part of the brain becomes cut off, which can result in brain cell death. A stroke can occur for the following reasons:

  • an artery that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked
  • a blood vessel within the brain ruptures

Signs of a stroke include:

  • sudden numbness or weakness in a limb or on one side of the face
  • sudden vision problems in one or both eyes
  • sudden confusion, difficulty speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
  • sudden difficulty with walking, loss of balance, lack of coordination, or dizziness
  • a sudden and severe headache

Learn more about how to identify the signs of a stroke.


Treatment can depend on where and how big the tear is. Treatment aims to prevent complications, such as stroke, and may include medications and surgery.

A person who shows signs of a stroke should phone for an ambulance immediately if possible. People should also look out for these symptoms in others and seek emergency medical care if they suspect a stroke.

Stroke treatments depend on the underlying cause. Some possible options include:

  • Thrombolytics: These medications can help break up blood clots.
  • Endovascular procedure: A surgeon guides surgical instruments through a tube inserted into a limb to repair a broken blood vessel.
  • Surgical treatment: This involves placing a metal clip around a ruptured blood vessel to reduce further bleeding.

Head and neck cancer

Head and neck cancers refer to a group of malignant tumors that develop in the head and neck.

The symptoms a person might experience depend on where the cancer begins. For example, thyroid cancer can cause neck pain. Cancers affecting the brain can lead to fatigue, balance issues, and headaches that can worsen in the morning or with activity.

General signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer include:

  • pain or weakness in the face
  • difficulty moving the jaw
  • a lump on the mouth, jaw, or back of the neck
  • mouth ulcers that do not heal
  • difficulty swallowing
  • difficulty with speech
  • ear pain
  • hearing loss
  • difficulty breathing
  • sore throat
  • unexplained weight loss


Treatment depends on:

  • type, grade, and location of the tumor
  • how abnormal the cells are
  • how big the tumor is and how far it has spread
  • the person’s overall health and fitness

Some possible treatment options include:

Cervical headaches indicate that there may be an injury in the cervical spine or surrounding soft tissue.

People who experience them may benefit from the following treatments:

  • physical therapy to help regain function
  • alternative therapies, such as acupuncture
  • medications to alleviate pain
  • surgery to address serious injuries

Anyone with severe, persistent, or worsening headaches should consult a doctor for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Learn more about when to contact a doctor for a headache.

It is not possible to prevent all headaches. However, certain strategies can reduce a person’s risk of developing them:

  • Monitoring headaches: People can keep a diary to record when their headaches occur, as well as their duration and intensity. This may allow them to detect possible headache triggers.
  • Managing anxiety and stress: Correct anxiety and stress management may help reduce headaches and other symptoms. People can try relaxation techniques, such as:
  • Managing underlying medical conditions: It is essential that people tend to any underlying medical issues to help reduce the risk of serious complications.

Headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and neck pain can be a concerning combination. Various conditions can cause these symptoms, while some are more severe than others. Potentially life threatening triggers include ruptured aneurysms and head and neck cancers.

As headaches can indicate serious health issues, people who experience severe, persistent, or worsening headaches should consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Anyone who experiences symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm or stroke requires emergency medical care immediately. Timely treatment can help reduce the risk of serious complications, including death.