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Can Back Pain Cause Migraine Headaches

Symptoms Of Migraine Headache

7 Causes of Back Pain and 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

Seek Professional Care For Cervicogenic Headaches

People suspected of having cervicogenic headache should be carefully assessed by their doctor to exclude other primary or secondary causes of headaches.

Nerve blocks are used both for diagnostic and treatment purposes. If numbing the cervical structures abolishes the headache, that can confirm the diagnosis of cervicogenic headache and also provide relief from the pain.

Best Chiropractic Technique For Headache Migraines In Kalinga

The best chiropractic technique for headache migraines will be the upper cervical as it corrects to the top two bones of the spine. Unlike general chiropractic, the upper cervical uses very gentle and precise movements to correct the most important part of your spine.

As the misalignment is corrected, the pressure placed on the brain stem is released and proper brain to body communication is restored, as well as opening up normal blood flow and oxygen back up to the brain and helping the rest of your spine move back into place. Its a small adjustment that makes a huge difference in our bodies.

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Acute Spine Trauma And Migraines

Among younger individuals, sudden trauma to the spine sometimes results in migraines. One possible reason for this result is chronic pain resulting from damage to spinal joint cartilage due to acute trauma such as a hard blow from sports or a direct fall. A potential side effect of ongoing pain is migraines.

Phases Of A Migraine Attack

Headaches: Overview and More

Often a migraine attack involves distinct phases, though people can experience them differently, says Roderick Spears, MD, a neurologist and headache specialist at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia.

Prodrome Phase This first phase of migraine can occur hours to days prior to the attack, says Dr. Spears. It typically involves a change in mood and energy certain cravings or excessive yawning can be a sign of prodrome, he says.

People sometimes confuse these prodrome, or premonitory, symptoms, with migraine triggers. Thats to say, a person who craves chocolate as a prodrome symptom may mistakenly believe that consuming chocolate triggered the migraine attack, according to MigraineAgain.

Aura About 25 to 35 percent of people with migraine have aura, says Spears. The most common aura is a visual change with a kaleidoscope-like phenomenon that can last anywhere from five minutes to an hour but usually much less than an hour, he says. Other aura symptoms may include tingling sensations, numbness, garbled speech, and clumsiness or weakness.

Headache Phase This stage can last 4 to 72 hours, and in most patients, its marked by a headache on one side of the head thats throbbing and pulsating in quality. Typically, the pain is described as moderate to severe, says Spears.

The headache phase is also associated with becoming sensitive to the environment, he adds. Light, sound, and odor sensitivity are common, as are nausea and vomiting, he says.

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How Whiplash Can Cause Migraines

Whiplash happens when the neck experiences violent movement in a forceful, back-and-forth motion similar to cracking a whip. You may begin to feel better after about three months of the accident. A whiplash accident impacts the C1 and C2 vertebrae and would most likely cause them to shift out of alignment. These two bones are different from the other vertebrae of the spine in the sense that they both have a vast range of mobility and flexibility. These bones are what support the head and enable it to move in various directions.

However, these characteristics also place these bones at a higher risk of misaligning. Anything that causes the muscles of the neck to overextend or overstretch can cause misalignments to the atlas and axis vertebrae. It is the frequent reason for migraines to occur, whether immediately after the injury or many months or even years later.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic For Whiplash And Migraines

How can chiropractors help patients dealing with whiplash and migraines? Upper cervical chiropractors detect even the tiniest of misalignments that exist in the atlas or axis vertebrae. Sad to say, it only takes a ¼ of a millimeter of misalignment to cause several serious health problems in the body. In addition to migraines, you are prone to experience fibromyalgia, vertigo, neck pain, back pain, scoliosis, chronic fatigue, and many other conditions due to whiplash or trauma to the neck or head.

Upper cervical chiropractors do not rely on guessing but utilize scientific measurements and very detailed imaging to locate a misalignment. They use a modern method that is unique from the traditional chiropractic technique. Many patients dread neck cracking but fortunately, their approach does not involve any cracking of the bones in the neck to drive desired results. Instead, their manner of adjustment is very gentle and encourages the bones to return into place naturally. This procedure enables the bones to stay in place longer than using force to reposition them. By realigning the atlas and axis vertebra, the body can start healing from the damage incurred from whiplash. As a result, this can restore your bodys normal function and highest performance. In short, upper cervical care is essential to address the issue of whiplash and any neck or head trauma as quickly as possible to avoid migraines and any health issues later on in life.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine

The main symptoms of migraine are an intense, throbbing or pounding headache often affecting the front or one side of the head, nausea and sometimes vomiting , and an increased sensitivity to light smells and sound. The throbbing headache is often made worse by the person moving.

Other symptoms of migraine might include poor concentration, feeling hot or cold, perspiration , and an increased need to pass urine. This can occur before, during or after the migraine attack.

People might also experience stomach aches and diarrhoea.

It is common for people to feel tired for up to two or three days after a migraine.

When To Worry About Neck Pain With A Headache

Stop Headaches, Upper-Back and Neck Pain Due to Forward Head Posture | #PainStopClinics

Usually, theres nothing to worry but at times when you notice these conditions immediately consult your doctor.

  • Having shoulder and neck pain with headache or pain that extends to the lower back.
  • The presence of the condition for more than 2 weeks.
  • When the condition is due to the result of an injury.
  • Eye pain is a combination of headache and neck pain.
  • Slurred speech and blur vision.

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What Is A Cervicogenic Headache

Have you ever woken up with a headache and a nasty crick in the neck? The two symptoms are probably related! A neck ache combined with a headache could indicate a cervicogenic headache.

Cervicogenic comes from “cervico,” meaning “neck,” and “genic,” meaning “relating to.” These headaches originate from the neck and by some definitions the spine.

What Are Causes Of Chronic Migraines

Chronic daily headaches fall into two categories: primary and non-primary. Primary chronic headaches dont have an underlying cause. This can be frustrating for doctors and headache sufferers alike. Non-primary chronic headaches can be the caused by several conditions, including:

  • An infection such as meningitis
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Inflammation of the blood vessels
  • Having experienced a stroke

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Are Chronic Headaches And Back Pain Linked

It seems like some people just cant get a break. Researchers are discovering that people who have chronic headaches are also more likely to have chronic low back pain.

Research published in July in the Journal of Headache and Pain looked at 14 studies from around the worldstudies from Denmark, the United States, Germany, Iran, Tunisia, the UK and Qatarthat had examined a link between headache and low back pain.

Some of the studies were smalljust 88 participantswhile other were quite large. One international study included over 404,000 people. The ages of people in the various studies ranged from 9.8 to 102.

The researchers found a definite link between chronic headache and chronic low back pain: people with one of the disorders were twice as likely to have the other when compared with people who didnt have either chronic headaches or chronic back pain.

A consistent positive association between headache and low back pain was found, the researchers wrote. This is consistent across countries, populations, and study design but variable in magnitude.

For the study, chronic headache was having a headache at least 15 days a month for more than three months. Chronic low back pain was defined as pain that last more than 3 months and occurs between the bottom of the rib cage and the creases of the buttocks.

The researchers, from UK-based Warwick Medical School, arent sure why the two problems are more likely to occur together.

Whats The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine

SEE: Do you have a headache or a migraine?

A headache is classified as a mild to severe pain in the head that resonates as pressure or aching, and it usually occurs on both sides of the head. The most common areas where headaches occur are the forehead, temples, and back of the neck. Triggers can be anything from muscle strain to stress and anxiety.

Comparatively, a migraine is classified as a much more intense or severe pain that can occur with other symptoms. Pain behind the eyes, ears, or temples can occur in conjunction with a migraine. Other symptoms may include nausea/vomiting, visual changes such as seeing spots, flashing lights, or temporary loss of sight. A migraine may also result in an overall sensitivity to light and/or sound. Another differentiating factor is that migraines generally only affect one side of the head. Finally, a migraine may come with an aura, which is a series of sensations a person feels right before they get a migraine that they wouldnt have with a headache. These sensations can include mental decline or reduction in focus, changes in visuals, tingling/numbness in the face or hands, and unusual changes in sense of touch, smell, or taste.

The causes of a migraine are wide and varied, however, some of the most common triggers include stress, irregular sleep, hormones, overconsumption of caffeine or alcohol, changes in diet, dehydration, and all varieties of back pain including lower back pain , neck pain , and upper back pain.

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Pain In The Neck And Back Of The Head


Arthritis headaches are caused by inflammation and swelling in the neck area. They often cause pain in the back of the head and neck. Movement typically triggers more intense pain. These headaches can be caused by any kind of arthritis. The most common are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Learn more about arthritis.

Poor posture

Poor posture can also cause pain in the back of your head and neck. Poor body positioning creates tension in your back, shoulders, and neck. And that tension may cause a headache. You may feel a dull, throbbing pain at the base of your skull.

Herniated disks

Herniated disks in the cervical spine can cause neck pain and tension. This can cause a type of headache called a cervicogenic headache.

The pain typically originates and is felt in the back of the head. It may also be felt in the temples or behind the eyes. Other symptoms may include discomfort in the shoulders or upper arms.

Learn more about herniated disks.

Occipital neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia is a condition that occurs when the nerves that run from the spinal cord to the scalp are damaged. It is often confused with migraines. Occipital neuralgia causes sharp, aching, throbbing pain that starts at the base of the head in the neck and moves towards the scalp.

Other symptoms include:

  • pain behind the eyes
  • a sharp stabbing sensation that feels like an electric shock in the neck and back of the head
  • sensitivity to light
  • light or sound sensitivity

Neck Pain With Headache Causes And Treatment

Headaches and neck pain go hand-in-hand for many reasons, a stiff or strangled neck most of the time leads to neck pain with a headache. These headaches are commonly called cervicogenic headaches. Knowing how to take care of such headaches caused by the sensitivity of nerves in the neck can help you a long way in avoiding other complications especially in the head and the region near the neck.

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Can Migraine Headaches Triggered By Back Pain Be Treated By A Neck Adjustment

The upper cervical bones of the spine are the only bones that cannot adjust themselves on their own. The rest of your spine follows the lead of the top two bones of your spine, so a neck adjustment will be able to help treat your back pain. Once the upper cervical area is corrected, the rest of your spine will begin to move slowly back into place and release the tension that was built up throughout your spine.

Can Migraines Lead To Back Pain

Does Neck Pain Cause Migraines?

More common among men and women in the 25-to-55 age group, migraine headaches can be a serious distraction for anyone who experiences them. In fact, more than 90 percent of those who experience migraines are unable to function when headaches like this occur. While most people focus on easing the symptoms, the actual source of these powerful headaches, which sometimes affect vision and the ability to speak, is often overlooked. One contributing factor that may not be on your radar is back pain. The trusted Beverly Hills spine surgeons from The Spine Institute offer a closer look at the possible connection between migraines and spine-related pain.

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What Causes A Cervicogenic Headache

Any condition or disorder of the cervical spine or tissue can cause cervicogenic headaches. These include

  • Whiplash or other neck injuries
  • Spinal misalignment
  • Elhers-Danlos syndrome
  • Posture and other lifestyle factors

Modern life includes sitting in front of computers, driving, hand-held devices, and watching TVall of these activities create severe stress on our neck and shoulders. While we know we should take constant breaks from these activities, we often “forget!”

Holding our arms out in front of us and/or cocking our necks to see the screen properly, we put pressure on our neck and shoulders that they weren’t built to handle. This sets us up for muscle and joint strain and often leads to tension headaches. Over time, repetition of poor posture can weaken muscles that normally hold our necks in the correct alignment. When they weaken over time, the cervical bones can move around in ways that they shouldn’t, pinching, squishing, and generally wreaking havoc. Muscle spasms, also caused by long-term bad posture, can do the same thing.

How Is A Spinal Headache Diagnosed

A doctor diagnoses a spinal headache based on your history and symptoms. If you have had a spinal tap within 14 days, diagnosis is often obvious. In that case, tests are usually not needed.

In people who have not had a spinal tap, doctors typically use imaging tests called magnetic resonance imaging to diagnose the source of the headache. These tests enable the doctor to see the brain and spinal cord to look for signs of leaking spinal fluids.

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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.


Reasons For Headaches With Back Pain

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Pinched nerves in the neck and upper back can cause pain in the back, upper neck and head. Pain from a pinched nerve can be severe and may be accompanied by other disturbing effects, such as dizziness, vertigo or even nausea. Upper cervical spinal stenosis concerns can have similar symptomatic expressions in some patients, depending on the source of canal narrowing.

Back ache, as well as headaches, can be brought on by stress. This stress can be emotional, circumstantial or caused by some other health concern. It is common for patients worrying about back pain to develop frequent severe headaches.

Psychological pain syndromes can cause back pain, headaches or both together. Recurrent migraine and tension headaches are known psychological syndromes that can be controlled without medical treatment in many patients.

Injury or trauma can cause a headache or back ache regardless of the affected region.

Help for Back Pain and Headaches

Some patients with a history of both of these conditions are suffering from psychologically-induced pain. Back and head pain are 2 of the most common forms of stress-related discomfort. It is rare that medical treatment will cure either of these symptoms if the cause is a mindbody process.

If the cause of the pain is indeed physical, medical care should be able to pinpoint and treat the source process driving the symptoms.

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