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Can A Migraine Make Your Neck Hurt

Treating Neck Pain From Migraine

How can we reduce neck pain and stiffness to help decrease your headache or migraine?

There are several theories as to why you might experience neck pain with a migraine. One is that the migraine might affect the trigeminocervical complex, a part of the brain that contains pain nerves linked to the face and upper neck.

Other researchers believe that musculoskeletal problems could trigger migraine by activating nerves in the upper neck.

The exact link between migraine and neck pain remains unknown. This makes it harder to know how to treat neck pain resulting from migraine. In fact, treating associated neck pain may be best accomplished by treating the migraine itself.

Ideally, migraine should be treated as early as possible . This is when they are most likely to respond to medication. Options include non-specific migraine treatments such as:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • metoclopramide , an anti-nausea medication
  • migraine-specific treatments, such as triptans, ditans, and gepants

It Doesnt Feel Like Other Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches have some unique traits that may clue you in. Cervicogenic headaches usually hurt on one side of the head, Dr. Estemalik says. They start around the base of your skull and radiate up one side.

Your neck may also give you some hints. A hallmark of a cervicogenic headache is a limited ability to move your neck or head, Dr. Estemalik explains. Your headache may get worse when you move your neck.

When To See A Doctor

In some cases, the things that lead to your headache with neck pain need medical attention. Call your doctor if the pain:

  • Is severe or sudden
  • Involves personality or mood changes
  • Is paired with a fever
  • Comes with confusion or memory problems
  • Also makes you feel sluggish
  • Involves jaw pain, vision problems, and a sore scalp

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Symptoms Of Pain Behind The Ear And Down The Neck

Pain down the neck and behind the ear is not a condition in itself. Ear and neck pain are usually symptomatic of other health issues and will usually be accompanied by other symptoms. For example, an ear infection can cause neck pain behind the ear on one side of your head and could be accompanied by swelling or discharge from your right or left ear.

Associated symptoms of pain behind the ear and neck can include:

  • Throbbing pain in the neck and on one side of your head
  • Shock-like pains at the top of your neck and behind your ear
  • Redness of the ear or behind the ear that is sore to touch
  • Soreness when turning your head from side to side
  • Intense pain from your jaw that extends behind one ear
  • An aching toothache that radiates pain to your ear
  • Increased sensitivity to light along with a thumping headache

Tmj Pain And Migraine: How Are They Related

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Medical Review Provided by Cynthia Armand, MD

TMJ is short for Temporomandibular Joint which is the hinge that connects your lower jawbone to your skull, allowing you to move your jawbone as you speak, eat, or yawn. This joint is supported by different muscles located under your jaw near your throat, in your cheeks, and up the sides of your head. These muscles then connect with muscles in your chest and shoulders.

Issues with the Temporomandibular Joint are called Temporomandibular Disorders, or TMD, although they are often referred to incorrectly as TMJ. TMD is often caused by malocclusion, or an imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaw is closed. This misaligned bite puts the joint out of alignment, leading to a lot of additional strain on the adjoining muscles. If the muscles in your head and face are affected by the strain, it can potentially lead to a Migraine attack.

The unfortunate truth is that headaches attributed to TMJ disorder occur so frequently and severely that they are often misdiagnosed and treated as Migraine without looking at the structural issues with the jaw that drive pain.

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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.

How Common Is Neck Pain With Migraine

In the 2018 Migraine In America survey, we asked, What symptoms do you typically experience with your migraine attacks? Out of the 4,356 respondents, 69 percent reported experiencing neck pain as part of a migraine symptom.

Warning: A stiff neck can be a sign of a more serious or potentially life-threatening condition. Seek immediate medical assistance if you experience a stiff neck, along with fever and headache.

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Schedule An Appointment For Your Neck Pain With Disc

If you have neck pain and headaches, figuring out what is causing the pain can help you get relief. At DISC, our team of specialists at practices throughout the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area can diagnose your condition. We can then offer you relief tips for headaches caused by neck pain.

We always recommend the least invasive options first. You might see improvement with conservative solutions like heat and cold, relaxation techniques or medication. If your neck pain and headaches continue, surgery might be the best option to help you get the relief you want. To learn more, contact DISC today to schedule an appointment.

Why Were You Or Why Are You Being Recommended To Botulinum Toxin Injections Then

Does Neck Pain Cause Migraines?

Botulinum toxin injections can help many people. These are typically the people we do not see in our office. We see the people as I mentioned earlier in this article who had botulinum toxin injections and continue to have headaches and worsening symptoms related to Cervical dystonia, also called spasmodic torticollis.

In an April 2020 study, researchers in Italy writing in The Journal of Headache and Pain describe benefits that some may achieve with botulinum toxin injections. They also suggest to their fellow doctors which patients may benefit the most or the least from Botulinum toxin injections. Here are the summary learning points:

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Migraines Linked To Neck Pain: Is There A Reliable Solution

Migraines are extremely debilitating. They can hit hard and leave you unable to perform your routine tasks or even go to work. Migraines are thought to be a genetic disease that is neurological in nature. This means they are not simply bad headaches but a disorder all on their own. As many as 39 million people in the US have migraines. Women are affected 3 times more often than men. Children are also impacted by migraines. There is evidence that even infants get them!

Migraines are referred to as primary headaches because the pain is not caused by an underlying condition like a brain tumor. Some people have one-sided head pain and, in about a third of the cases, it affects both sides. If you are suffering from a migraine, you will most likely seek out a dark, quiet, cool room to lie down in until the pain subsides.

Migraines can last anywhere from just a few hours to many days. However, the pain stage is not the only time you are affected. There is an initial phase before the head pain begins and something referred to as a migraine hangover that happens after the head pain subsides. You may still have some symptoms to deal with for a few days after the head pain.

Symptoms that accompany the head pain include :

  • Throbbing and pounding head pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Pain on only one side of the head
  • Visual disturbances
  • Neck pain

Painful Stiff Neck With Your Migraine Attacks

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A stiff, painful neck is common when it comes to migraine. I have had neck pain along with migraine for as long as I can remember. It took me a long time to realize, and believe, that the stiff, painful neck was actually a symptom related to migraine. It was not a separate underlying condition for me. However, cervical neck dysfunction can co-occur with migraine which can make the diagnosis more difficult.

My diagnosis of neck pain due to migraine was certainly complicated by the fact that I had herniated a disc at the C6-C7 area of my spine shortly after my son was born. Because of this, I really thought that the years of neck pain before and after this injury were all related, even though physical therapy was successful in treating my ruptured disc.

Why was I still so convinced that the pain in my neck was a separate underlying condition? Simply because it wasnt until my headache specialist explained the connection between migraine and a stiff, painful neck that I became aware of the symptomology.

**While Migraine Strong writes about the latest in migraine treatments, this is not medical advice. We are patient educators and all information you read should be discussed with your doctor.

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Get Rid Of Your Old Pillow Or Mattress

Sleep should be a time for your body to rest and recharge. So be choosy about your sleeping equipment.

Finding the right mattress and pillow can be key to preventing a cervicogenic headache, Dr. Estemalik says. Do you wake up with neck pain or a headache? That could be a clue that you need to switch your pillow or mattress.

Find a pillow that keeps your neck in line with your back. The exact pillow type varies from person to person based on your sleeping position and body type. And follow Goldilocks advice about your bed: Not too hard or too soft. Replace old mattresses and pillows, since they lose their support after years of use.

What Causes Neck Pain

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The neck is also called the cervical spine. Its made up of seven bones responsible for supporting the head and allowing nerves to travel from the spine to the brain. When any part of the neck is injured or strained, pain can occur. Some common causes of neck pain include:

  • Your car: How you drive can contribute to neck pain. The way you sit in the drivers seat should make it easy for you to hold your spine straight without leaning forward or craning your neck. If the seat is too far back or too low, youre likely to lean forward and put stress on the neck. Driving for long periods can also cause eye strain, which can lead to discomfort in the neck.
  • Your phone: If youre always checking your phone, you might have noticed soreness in the neck. Looking at your phone with your head dropped and your shoulders stooped affects your necks curve, potentially leading to problems. When youre stooped forward, theres more weight and pressure on the neck, which can lead to muscle strain.
  • Your work style: Sitting in front of a computer or at a desk all day is known to contribute to spinal problems, including neck pain. If your computer monitor is too low or too high, you have to strain your neck to clearly see the screen, putting more pressure on your neck.

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Migraine Vs Sinus Headache

It isnt always easy to tell the difference between a migraine and a headache, much less a sinus headache, but each condition does have its own set of specific symptoms. While some are shared, others are very distinct to the condition. This creates a strong case for keeping a migraine diary and documenting the details of and surrounding your headaches.

According to Dr. Ailani, the symptoms of migraine and sinus headache are similar because of the region of the brain that is activated during an attack:

Migraine can also have associated symptoms, symptoms that come WITH the headache pain that can be confused for a sinus or allergy problem. You can have a runny nose, watery eyes, your eyes can turn red. These symptoms, called autonomic symptoms, come on because of the area in the brain, the hypothalamus, that gets turned on during migraine.

Following this section are common symptoms for migraines as well as sinus migraine, sinus headaches and sinusitis. As you can see, many of them are identical or nearly identical. Its no wonder that patients struggle to describe their head pain and doctors struggle to diagnose it. The problem is, without a proper diagnosis you cant get proper treatment. If you are diagnosed with sinus headaches but you actually have migraines, it could delay your migraine treatment for years.

Tooth Pain Caused By Migraine

While most migraines concentrate pain on the upper parts of the head and face, its also possible to feel pain below these points.

Its less common for a migraine to affect the middle of the face, but some experience a migraine attack that feels like pain in their teeth. The medical term for this condition is neurovascular orofacial pain.

How can a migraine affect your teeth? While the exact cause of migraine isnt yet known, experts suspect that theyre caused by abnormal brain activity that interferes with the function of the blood vessels, chemicals, and nerve signals in the brain. The pain that results may actually radiate into the teeth.

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Symptoms Of A Migraine

Migraines can vary from person to person and even from attack to attack. There are a wide range of migraine symptoms, but the most common include:

  • Head pain, often over one eye or on one or both sides
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Ear pain
  • Coughing

To further compound the confusion between these two conditions, even treatment options are similar. Many people are very surprised to discover that sinus medications and treatments relieve their migraine pain. Dr. Ailani explains:

Migraine can improve when using products like Sudafed or Advil cold/sinus. These medications work to reduce some of the chemicals that are elevated during a migraine, so dont be fooled into thinking that if you feel better with Sudafed, it is a sinus issue. Overuse of these medications can lead to more headaches, so if you find yourself using these medications more than 2-3 days a week, seek medical attention for an appropriate diagnosis.

A diagnosis of either a migraine or a sinus headache is the first step in finding treatment that works.

The Difference Between Occipital Neuralgia And Migraine

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Migraines tend to have identifiable triggers, Dr. Costandi notes. They can be accompanied by visual disturbances and other symptoms that precede the headaches. Occipital neuralgia, on the other hand, does not typically have either of those characteristics.

Pain specialists can identify occipital neuralgia through one or more of these methods:

  • Patient history. If the pain starts in the neck and radiates up the head to the eyebrows, thats typical occipital neuralgia, Dr. Costandi says.
  • A basic exam. Doctors can sometimes reproduce the pain by pressing on occipital nerves at the base of the skull.
  • Nerve block. If the pain disappears after we numb the occipital nerve, then we can be confident that occipital neuralgia is causing the headache, Dr. Costandi says.
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    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.

    How Neck Pain Is Connected To Migraines

    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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