According to the National Headache Foundation, neck arthritis and headaches are common health problems. When arthritis causes neck vertebra damage, nerves from the spine to the head are affected and can cause headaches.
Two types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, typically affect neck joints and may trigger headache pain.
Cervical osteoarthritis, also called cervical spondylosis, is wear and tear of neck cartilage and joints. When this damage presses on nerve roots, it causes headaches, especially at the back of the head.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that dislocates cervical or neck vertebra. This spinal disruption causes headaches by pinching or pressing on neck and scalp nerves.
Neck arthritis is diagnosed with tests such as X-rays, electromyography (EMG), computed tomography(CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that show vertebra damage or bulging discs.
Simple treatments for neck arthritis such as rest, exercise and weight loss are often effective. Medications such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be useful.