Headaches and other upper extremity discomfort can stem from a variety of causes.  Among these are spinal problems, problems with the muscles, bones and joints of the lower jaw, a migraine condition, or other neurological, circulatory and muscular sources, some quite serious.  If you experience intense, recurring or persistent discomfort anywhere from the neck up, it is important to seek medical attention promptly.

Headaches have a variety of causes.  Spinal problems, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, migraines and muscular injuries are among them.  A few are described here.

Ruptured Disk
Normally, disks act as shock absorbers cushioning your vertebrae from each other as you move.  A herniated disk is a disk that has bulged out from its proper place and no longer cushions the vertebrae, causing pain and loss of motion.

Whiplash - Neck Strain
A strain of the neck or the muscles around the cervical spine is often called whiplash.  Such a strain injury occurs when there is sudden extension and flexion of the neck.

Cervical Spinal Stenosis
With age, injury, poor posture or diseases like arthritis, there can be damage to the bone or joints of the cervical spine.

Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one spinal segment 'slips' away from another.  Spondylolisthesis is most commonly seen with degenerative (aging) changes of the spine, but there may be other causes.

TMJ Syndrome
Every time we talk, chew, bite down, or swallow we put the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) to work.  With excessive force, overuse or misalignment, TMJ Syndrome starts causing pain in the muscles and joints of the jaw.  This pain may radiate to the face, neck, head and even to the shoulders. There also may be difficulty opening the mouth all the way, along with clicking or popping noises when chewing, yawning or moving the jaw.  The most common causes of TMJ are a poor bite and stress combined with tooth-grinding, especially at night.  Gum chewing can make the problem even worse.  Headaches are a common symptom.

Neck Muscle Pain
Injuries to the trapezius muscle, sternocleidomastoid muscle, levator scapulae muscle or the splenius muscles commonly cause severe neck pain due to referred pain.