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Can Neck Pain Cause Migraines

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Conventional Treatment Of Neck Pain And Related Symptoms

Dizziness, headaches, and neck pain from SCM trigger points

The treatment process will be different for every patient depending on what the underlying cause is. Generally, pain is initially treated by recommending that a patient rest the area as much as possible. The period of rest may be accompanied by painkillers, over-the-counter or prescription, depending on the patients pain level and tolerance. If this initial treatment is unable to ease the symptoms, other practices may be put to use:

The amount of potential treatment options changes depending on what is causing the symptoms. Once a proper diagnosis is made, doctors can begin to formulate a plan for treatment that is unique to each patient.

Treatment Options For Tension

Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and paracetamol are commonly used to treat tension-type headache. It shouldnt be necessary to take stronger medications.

Its important to discuss use of any drugs with your doctor if you are pregnant. Using painkillers more than twice a week can increase the risk of tension-type developing into chronic daily headache, and you should also speak to your doctor if you are regularly getting headaches.

As stress is a cause of tension-type headache, you may find it helpful to learn relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, avoid stressful situations as much as possible, and consider speaking to a counsellor or therapist.

Potential Causes Of Cervicogenic Headaches

The cause of a cervicogenic headache is often related to excessive stress to the neck. The headache may result from cervical osteoarthritis , a damaged disc, or whiplash-type movement that irritates or compresses a cervical nerve. The neck’s bony structures and its soft tissues can contribute to the development of a cervicogenic headache.

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Migraine Vs Tension Headache

Both of these conditions are primarily felt as pain in the head which is why many people are not able to make a clear distinction between a migraine and a headache. However, this difference might be very important because the treatment of respective conditions is different. A migraine usually affects the side of your head. Additionally, migraine is often followed by symptoms such as nausea, dizziness or seeing flashing or blind spots which, is not the case with tension headaches.

The Link Between Neck Pain And Migraines

Can a Pinched Nerve Cause Headaches and Neck Pain?

Chronic migraines affect around 2% of people across the world, according to The Migraine Trust, and a high number of those affected deal with significant impairment during migraine attacks. More recent studies have shown that many individuals who deal with migraines also experience neck pain. The neck and head are obviously closely connected, but whats the link between neck pain and migraines? Do migraines result in neck pain, or is neck pain causing your migraines?

How Common is Neck Pain Among Migraine Sufferers?

The 2018 Migraine in America survey uncovered the fact that 69% of migraine sufferers surveyed reported dealing with neck pain when they have migraines. Another study published in the Headache journal discovered that among the 113 individuals evaluated, neck pain was more common for migraine patients than nausea. Many people report that the neck pain begins before a migraine, although for many, this precursor goes on to last through the migraine attack, as well.

Migraine Neck-Related Symptoms

With some studies showing that neck pain may be even more common than nausea in migraine sufferers, its important to be aware of some of the symptoms of migraine that are related to pain and discomfort in the neck. These include:

While many people write off the above symptoms as related to neck pain, in many cases they could actually be a sign of a migraine attack.

Causes of Migraine and Neck Pain

Keeping Track of Neck Pain and Other Migraine Symptoms

In Conclusion:

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Neck Pain The Statistics

Neck pain has an annual prevalence rate exceeding 30% among adults in the US nearly 50% of individuals will continue to experience some degree of chronic neck pain or frequent occurrences. Among adults, 20% to 70% will experience neck pain that interferes with their daily activities during their lifetime.

Neck pain has an annual prevalence rate exceeding 30% among adults in the US nearly 50% of individuals will continue to experience some degree of chronic neck pain or frequent occurrences. Among adults, 20% to 70% will experience neck pain that interferes with their daily activities during their lifetime.

About 10% of neck pain is associated with illnesses such as polymyalgia rheumatica, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, tumors, and infections.

Among adults, 20% to 70% will experience neck pain that interferes with their daily activities during their lifetime

What Does Cervicogenic Headache Feel Like

A cervicogenic headache is when the pain is occurring from a source in the neck, Kumar explains.

Its different from a migraine with neck pain, because unlike migraine, which is a primary headache, cervicogenic headaches are secondary headaches, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

In a primary headache, the headache itself is the main issue and not a symptom of another underlying disease or disorder. In cervicogenic headaches, the pain is caused by an underlying disorder or injury of the neck, such as a tumor, fracture, infection, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis of the cervical spine, or muscle tightness or strain in the neck muscles.

This type of headache can mimic a migraine headache because they are usually on one side of the head and the pain can go from back of the neck and head to the front of the head, says Kumar.

There are key differences between the two types of headache, however: Migraine headaches often have other symptoms, such as visual symptoms and nausea it gets worse with activity, and migraine pain can have a pulsating quality, she says.

Cervicogenic headaches, on the other hand, are often accompanied by reduced range of motion of the neck, according to StatPearls.

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Gentle Massage To Get Rid Of Neck Pain And Headache

Gently massaging the back of your neck and base of your skull can help to relax your neck muscles, release pressure from a pinched nerve, and give relief from headache pain.

Dr. William H. Blahd on WebMD recommends massaging the painful area between your shoulders, top of your neck, and back of your head for quick pain relief. This helps to increase blood circulation to the affected area and relieve pain naturally without using medication.15

You can also use essential oils in a massage oil to quickly get rid of that neck headache. Essential oils like peppermint, lavender oil, and eucalyptus oil are especially effective for neck pain and migraines.

How to use essential oils for neck pain and headache relief:

  • Mix 4 drops of peppermint oil, 5 drops lavender oil, and 3 drops eucalyptus with 1 oz. olive oil or sweet almond oil .
  • Gently massage the oil onto the back of your neck, shoulders, and base of your skull.
  • Continue massaging for a few minutes to help alleviate pain from your head and neck and relieve a stiff neck.
  • For other essential oils that you can use in the pain-relief massage blend, please read my article on the best essential oils for severe headaches.

    Chiropractic And Acupuncture Do They Help

    Chiropractic Adjustment for Headaches, Can Car Wrecks Cause Migraines? TMJ, Chiro, Neck Pain Relief

    An August 2021 study led by the California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences & Psychology in the journal Cureus offered this assessment of acupuncture and manual or chiropractic care.

    There are several non-pharmacologic treatment options suggested for tension-type headaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation, biofeedback, acupuncture, exercise, manual therapy, and even some home remedies. . . Acupuncture was compared to routine care or sham intervention. Acupuncture was not found to be superior to physiotherapy, exercise, and massage therapy. . . Manual therapy has an efficacy that equals prophylactic medication and tricyclic antidepressants in treating tension-type headaches. The available data suggests that both acupuncture and manual therapy have beneficial effects on treating symptoms of tension-type headache. However, further clinical trials looking at long-term benefits and risks are needed.

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    What Is The Cervical Spine

    The cervical spine is the neck region of your spinal column. Its made up of seven small, highly mobile bones, and their associated ligaments, muscles, and shock-absorbing discs.

    Anything that aggravates or comes into contact with your spinal nerve roots can lead to radiculopathy, and that includes several common conditions in which growths or abnormalities cause something to invade the space of the nerve root.

    • Herniated disc: The shock-absorbing discs between vertebrae can become damaged and may develop a bulge and/or leak fluid.
    • Synovial cyst: These lumps are caused by a buildup of joint fluid that forms a sac.
    • Bone spur: An extra bit of bone forms in response to damage or chronic inflammation.
    • Cervical spondylosis : This condition involves the formation of bone spurs in the neck.
    • Spinal stenosis: An advanced stage of spinal arthritis, stenosis occurs when the spaces in the spine become narrowed, usually due to excess bone growth.
    • Degenerative disc disease: Discs between vertebrae erode and fray over time, which may cause a herniated disc. In cases of severe degeneration, bone-on-bone contact can cause bone spurs in the joint.

    Prolotherapy And The Neck Element In Headaches

    Do weakened ligaments in the neck causes an unnatural head posture which can cause headaches? Can strengthening these neck ligaments resolve the problem of chronic headaches and migraines by resolving the problem of cervical instability?

    We are going to return to our research published in the journal Practical Pain Management,

    Prolotherapy is based on the theory that the cause of most chronic musculoskeletal pain is ligament and/or tendon weakness . This retrospective pilot study was undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of dextrose prolotherapy on tension and migraine headache pain and its associated symptoms.

    Typical areas treated during Prolotherapy sessions for chronic headaches and neck pain are the base of the skull, cervical vertebral ligaments, posterior-lateral clavicle, where the trapezius muscle attaches, as well as the attachments of the levator scapulae muscles. Because there is an anesthetic in the solution, generally the neck or headache pain is immediately relieved. This again, confirms the diagnosis both for the patient and the physician.

    • Prolotherapy, by strengthening cervical ligaments and tendons, treats very common trigger and pain locations of the posterior neck that can cause headaches.
    • Prolotherapy will likely become an increasingly useful treatment for aging patients who experience an increase in cervical pain as a trigger for tension and migraine headache pain.

    Study highlights:

  • Intensity Level and Length of Headaches
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    How Are Cervicogenic Headaches Treated

    It is important to try to determine exactly which structures in the neck are causing the headaches. Once this has been done, an appropriate treatment may be prescribed.

    Initially, cervicogenic headaches are treated with pain medications and physiotherapy. Avoidance of aggravating activities is important.

    Constant cervicogenic headaches arising from the facet joints may respond to percutaneous radiofrequency denervation . A facet joint block with local anaesthetic is usually performed first to confirm the diagnosis.

    C2 radiofrequency pulse ganglionotomy is another technique which may benefit some patients, particularly if C2 nerve root compression is thought to be involved in the production of the headaches.

    Cervicogenic headaches secondary to cervical disc prolapse or nerve root compression often improve with microsurgical discectomy and fusion.

    Peripheral nerve stimulation of the greater and lesser occipital nerves is an effective technique in patients with cervicogenic headaches . It appears that around 70% of patients who are resistant to other conventional therapies may benefit from this fairly low-risk surgical technique.

    What Is A Headache

    Can Neck Pain Cause Bad Headaches?

    Headache as soon as we hear this word, we go back to the memory of our last headache. The head pain that begins mildly and gradually, and then increases slightly and sometimes up to a point it is unbearable. Sometimes it happens that we do not get relief from headache even after taking medicines.

    Many people consider regular headache to be the truth of their lives. But there is a cure for this problem, and the go-to treatment is meditation. As we all know, most of the random headaches will last only hours and you can easily get rid of headaches through meditation.

    Headache is a sign of stress or emotional pain.

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    Neck Pain And Headaches From Stress

    Stress is nothing more than our reaction to a provocation that upsets our physical and/or mental equilibrium. Therefore, stress is an inevitable part of life. Nevertheless, when we are faced with stress, our fight or flight response can be triggered this causes the production of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol to increase and rush through your body.

    Extensive Research Involving Migraine Neck Pain And Upper Cervical Care

    To back up this connection between migraines and neck pain, research was conducted involving migraines and upper cervical care. Upper Cervical Care is a subspecialty of chiropractic that focuses on gentle and precise adjustments of the C1 and C2 vertebrae. There is no twisting, cracking, popping or jerking of the neck involved with this specialty.

    The research involved 11 patients who had never received care from an upper cervical chiropractor. Each patient had experienced between 10 and 26 migraine days for at least four consecutive months prior to the study. The patients also needed to report a minimum of 8 headaches per month that hit a 4 or higher on a pain scale of 0-10 in order to qualify. In this particular study, patients received NUCCA method of upper cervical care to correct misalignments.

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    Symptoms Of Migraine Headache

    The symptoms of migraine progress through 4 stages, however, all 4 stages may not be present in everyone with migraine.

    • Prodrome. Several hours before a migraine, warning signs such as neck pain or stiffness, mood changes, depression, food cravings, increased thirst/urination, and/or frequent yawning may develop.
    • Aura. Flashes of light, bright shapes, bright spots, vision loss, tingling in the upper and/or lower limbs, difficulty speaking, jerking movements, and/or hearing noises may be experienced in the aura phase. Minutes to hours after this phase, the migraine attack starts.
    • Migraine attack. Severe throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea/vomiting, lightheadedness, and neck pain occur in this phase. Some evidence suggests that neck pain may be a symptom of migraine rather than a trigger, but more research is needed.3
    • Post-drome. A feeling of confusion, weakness, and exhaustion may continue for up to a day after the migraine attack.

    A migraine headache typically lasts for 4 hours and can continue up to 72 hours if not treated. 4

    How Neck Pain Is Connected To Migraines

    Can Stomach Sleeping Cause Neck Pain or Headaches?

    As mentioned, neck pain is often included in migraine symptoms. This often has to do with the nerves or muscles in the neck. The brain has no way to actually feel pain. Therefore, the head pain associated with migraines comes from the nerves in the head and is often be due to a problem in the neck. Neck pain can be caused by the bones of the spine or the discs responsible for cushioning these bones. It may even feel like you have a migraine in your neck. Some say it is like having a migraine radiating from the neck to the head. However, please be warned that a stiff neck can be a sign of a serious or even life-threatening condition. Seek medical attention immediately especially if it is accompanied by a fever and a headache.

    A number of informative studies have been conducted that shed some light on neck pain in those with migraines. In 2010, 113 patients were observed and found to have neck pain in association with their migraines more often than nausea with their migraines. In another survey, 144 people who had migraines were questioned. Of these, 75 percent had neck pain along with their migraines. This is the same number who also had sensitivity to light, nausea, and sensitivity to sound. In fact, neck pain was noted to occur three times as often as vomiting and migraines with an aura. Here is how neck pain was described and in how many people:

    • Tightness: 69%
    • Neck pain before head pain: 60%

    There are other factors that can cause neck pain. These include:

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    How Do These Types Of Headaches Occur

    There are many reasons a person may get a neck-related headache. One of the most common reasons is car accident injuries.

    Whiplash is one of the most common injuries treated by an auto accident doctor. Whiplash is also a common reason for people to have neck-related injuries. For those who receive a car accident injury in New York, make sure you look for a doctor who takes no-fault insurance.

    Other reasons these headaches might occur:

    • Osteoarthritis
    • A prolapsed disc in the neck
    • Poor posture
    • A compressed or pinched nerve in the cervical spine

    Its even possible to have a cervicogenic headache from sleeping funny. Most of these reasons occur because a muscle has been mildly injured or a nerve has been pinched.

    Neck Pain With Headache Treatment

    There are many treatments for this condition and the foremost thing a doctor does is diagnosing the root cause. Based on the reason he may treat with various medicines and therapies that may include OTC drugs, prescribed medicine, muscle relaxers, cortisone injections, and posture adjustments. They may also recommend physiotherapy if needed.

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    Other Symptoms Of An Irritated Vagus Nerve

    Here we see the mid-neck . Note that the vagus nerve is right behind the Sternocleidomastoid muscle and right in front of the scalenes. What are some of the tightest muscles in the necks of patients who have had injuries like whiplash? The SCM and the scalenes. Hence, irritation of the vagus nerve by these structures may explain many of the symptoms we see in these patients. In addition, remember that the vagus nerve is the wanderer, so it goes lots of other places where it can get irritated or have pressure placed on it. Lets explore some of those.

    If we go back to the top, where the vagus nerve comes out of the skull, we can see why these same symptoms commonly plague patients with craniocervical instability . In the image to the right, youre looking at the skull base as the dotted lines and the two circles are holes in the skull where the different nerves exit. The Foramen magnum is the big hole at the bottom of the skull where the spinal cord and nerves exit. The Jugular Foramen is another smaller hole where the spinal accessory nerve and the vagus nerve come out.

    In CCI patients, the skull is not stable on the neck. So these nerves are bound to get yanked around more, leading to irritation and vagus nerve dysfunction. In addition, the spinal accessory nerve also goes to the SCM and upper trap muscles, which are also muscles that are commonly tight in these patients. Meaning an irritated nerve can cause a tight and irritated muscle.


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