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.
How Should Neck Pain In A Person With Migraine Be Treated
Even if neck pain isn’t causing the migraine attack, that doesn’t mean that the pathways of the cervical nerves cant be explored to try and have therapeutic benefits. For example, headache specialists know that occipital injections with either anesthetics or anesthetics plus steroids in the region of the greater occipital or lesser occipital nerve can be helpful.
Even though the pain is not caused by a problem in the neck, that’s also not to say that massage, or heat, or cold on the neck might not be helpful for some individuals. Also, people with migraine and neck pain often feel that doing certain kinds of relaxation approaches might be helpful on a more preventive basis.
Many individuals are referred for different kinds of therapies. One of them is physical therapy, and some may find benefit, but certainly not everybody does. There is not an established protocol to deal with neck pain as it relates to migraine within the realm of physical therapy. The same goes for osteopathic and chiropractic approaches, where headache specialists hear anecdotally that some individuals find benefit from some of these approaches.
It may also be helpful for people with neck pain with migraine to address ergonomic issues, such as seating positioning at a desk or computer, to establish a more natural posture that isn’t putting strain on the neck.
Can Neck Pain Cause Headaches
There’s something called cervicogenic headache within the classification scheme for headache disorders. That is a somewhat nebulous diagnosis where the pathology in the neck is thought to be the primary driver of the headache. The reason that classification is somewhat controversial is that for those with migraine who have significant neck pain, the overwhelming majority don’t have any specific pathology in the neck that explains their pain.
This is the key point: Just because there is pain in the neck during, after, or between a migraine attack doesn’t mean that there is a specific problem in the neck that’s causing it. The neck pain is a manifestation of migraine, just like head pain or nausea is a manifestation of migraine without any clear underlying problem which can be identified with a scan or an X-ray.
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Will Neck Pain Cause Headache
Yes, amongst many causes for headache neck pain is one and also the most common cause. Tension headaches and lower back pain and neck pain with headaches are generally rooted in the neck. However, the aches and stemming points within the neck vary a lot. Occipital neuralgia and cervicogenic headache are two common types of headaches due to neck pain.
Sinus Headache Neck Pain Things To Know
A recent study looked at neck pain in those that had self reported sinus headache . They found that neck pain and cervical musculoskeletal dysfunction are common among persons with SRSH and may be a comorbid feature or contributing factor to headaches attributed to rhinosinusitis. I found this to be interesting as another study found that 90% of self reported sinus headache is actually migraine.
Of people with chronic migraine or chronic tension type headache, 60-80% identify stiff neck pain as one of their symptoms. In the neck pain study, 84% reported headache with their neck pain. These results indicate that the neck pain might be part of the headache symptom complex rather than reflect a local cervical cause.
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Tips For Relieving Headaches Caused By Neck Pain
You know the signs of a headache, such as a dull ache or a feeling of tightness creeping up your neck and across your forehead. Headaches are among the most commonly occurring ailments in the world. More than half of all women report having tension headaches at some point, and one-third of all men report the same. In the U.S., 20% of women and 10% of men said they had a severe headache at some point in the past three months. Multiple factors can trigger a headache, depending on the type. In some cases, a headache is due to neck pain.
Learn more about the connection between pain in the neck and headaches below and what to do for headaches caused by neck pain.
Neck Pain Can Be Associated With Tension Headaches
Tension-type headaches can be the result of neck and scalp muscles tensing or contracting, according to MedlinePlus. Stress, depression, head injury, anxiety, and any activity where you hold your head in one position without moving can cause the muscle contractions.
In addition to having different causes, there are key differences between tension headache and migraine symptoms: Tension headache pain is a dull, pressure-like pain thats typically on both sides of the head, whereas migraine pain is often described as throbbing pain on one side of the head.
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Is Neck Pain A Trigger For Migraine
Due to the high rate of neck pain in those living with migraine, it was long thought that neck pain might be a trigger for migraine. A 2018 study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain found that neck pain should actually be seen as a symptom of migraine, and not a trigger.1 The study looked at those living with migraine and a control group and found no significant difference between the 2 groups during periods of mental stress or physical activity, compared to rest periods.1
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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Tips For Improving Posture
Signs That Neck Pain Is Due To A Migraine
Its common to see neck pain along with headache conditions, such as tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches, and migraines. However, there are some telltale signs that can indicate that the neck pain is due to a migraine. These signs include the following:
- The neck pain occurs before and/or during your migraine attack
- The pain and tightness is on the same side of your neck as your headache
- The pain is in the upper neck region
- The neck pain worsens with certain positions
- The pain radiates into the lower neck and even into your shoulder
Neck pain with migraine headaches often feels dull, achy, or tender, but not sharp or severe. Neck pain with migraines should not cause sensory changes, such as numbness, tingling, or weakness. Instead, those symptoms are often associated with other causes, such as pinched nerves.
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Neck Pain And Migraine Headache
Migraine headache, or migraine is a common disabling episodic headache characterized by throbbing or pulsating pain on one side of the head. More than half of the migraine population experience neck pain before and/or during a migraine attack.1–2 While in most cases neck pain in migraine is limited to the upper neck region, sometimes the pain may radiate to the lower neck and/or shoulder.
A migraine is a recurring headache that causes moderate to severe throbbing and pulsating pain on one side of the head. Other symptoms may include nausea and sensitivity to light and/or sound.
Migraine is believed to be caused due to genetically modified hypersensitive neurons in the brain. These neurons are triggered by environmental changes , hormones, food, or smell and in turn trigger adjacent neurons to induce pain pathways and cause migraine symptoms.
Treatment Of Neck Pain And Headache On Right Side
Fortunately, there are treatments for all types of headaches that you may have. Therefore, when you start experiencing strange pain in your head or neck area, it would be wise for you to visit your doctor.
1. Physical therapy
First of all, a good physiotherapist will assess your headache and make sure it is safe for you to proceed to treatment. If any of the red spots mentioned above appear then we will work with your doctor to make sure that the headache is not the worst.
If it is safe then your physical therapist will check your posture, neck and shoulder range of motion, neck and shoulder strength and any type of movement that produces your headaches. We use this information to treat any obstructions we experience that may contribute to your pain.
Normally, your physical therapist will experience a combination of poor posture, poor neck stability, bad head movement in the neck and excess shoulder muscles. All of these effects can put increased pressure on the structures surrounding the suboccipital and larger ovarian arteries.
2. Improve posture and reduce pain
Do you hang your shoulders for hours when you are using equipment, using a seat that does not have adequate support, or are you using a computer that is too low? If so and you are experiencing frequent headaches and neck pain try these simple changes to correct the wrong posture.
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How Are Migraines Treated
Migraines that are severe, frequent or accompanied by neurological symptoms are best treated preventively, usually with a combination of dietary modification, lifestyle changes, vitamins and daily prescription medications. Most of our best preventive medications are often used for other medical purposes as well the majority are blood pressure drugs, antidepressants or epilepsy medications. Individual headache attacks are best treated early, often with one or more of the following types of medications: triptans, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , anti-emetics , and sometimes narcotics or steroids.
Migraines typically last a few hours to a couple of days and respond well to specific treatments. However, in some patients, the migraine is particularly severe and long-lasting and may even become chronic, occurring continuously for weeks, months or even years. If improperly managed or left untreated, intermittent migraines may essentially transform into a chronic daily headache, with continuous and smoldering symptoms that periodically erupt into a “full-blown” migraine. This condition is extremely difficult to treat.
At the Johns Hopkins Headache Center, located at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical center, we have expert physical therapists, nutritionists and psychologists who work closely with our neurologists to help manage patients with frequent migraines. Biofeedback and relaxation techniques are available to complement our standard medical treatments.
Causes Of Neck Pain And Migraine
Tightness and pain in the muscles and joints of your neck are usually indications of stress, either physical or emotional, poor posture or another medical condition. Some migraines start in the neck or the base of your skull, and patients often experience occipital neuralgia, which is a severe, throbbing pain in the upper neck area or behind the ears, usually on one side of the head.
Posture problems can be related to the way you stand, walk, hold your shoulders or the type of work you do and the location. People who work at a desk for long hours could be particularly likely to develop posture issues affecting their neck. Posture is recognized as being a primary cause of tension headaches, but it sometimes gets insufficient attention from the migraine community.
Age-related wear and tear affecting the joints in your neck could also cause neck pain, resulting in stimulation of the nerves in the neck that extend into your head. Any dysfunction of the neck joints could cause pain that travels upwards into the head, resulting in migraine in patients prone to attacks. The joints most commonly involved are those in your upper neck, which are the Atlanto-occipital joint, Atlanto-axial joint and the C2/C3 cervical spine joints. Pain in these areas can be either a cause of your migraine, or the result of it.
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Ways To Tame Tension Headaches
If you ever had a tension headache, you know it can put a damper on your day. This kind of headache usually develops in the afternoon, causing mild or moderate pain that may feel like dull tightness or a band of pressure. Tension headaches occur when neck, shoulder, and scalp muscles become tense. Some people experience tension headaches from time to time others get them more often. While a tension headache is rarely debilitating, it can certainly make life miserable.
If you have frequent tension headaches , here are some strategies that can show you how to get rid of a headache.
Is Neck Pain A Symptom Of Migraine
Neck pain can be one of many symptoms experienced in migraine, and the neck pain is often in the same side as the headache, says Kumar. So, if a person has a right-sided headache during the migraine attack, they will have neck pain and tightness in the right side of the neck, she says.
Neck pain in migraine is especially common in people with chronic migraine, says Kumar. Chronic migraine is a headache occurring on 15 or more days every month for more than three months, according to the International Headache Society.
Almost 80 percent of people with chronic migraine will have neck pain as an associated symptom, says Kumar.
There is some debate about whether neck pain triggers a migraine attack or is a symptom. A study published in 2018 in the Journal of Headache and Pain used electromyography to measure activity in the trapezius muscle during rest, mental stress, and physical activity in people with migraine compared with people with other types of headaches. Investigators concluded that neck pain was more likely a symptom of migraine than a trigger.
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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.
What Is Causing My Neck Pain And Headache
Several conditions can cause neck pain and headache. Some conditions may start as a neck problem and then send symptoms up to the head, whereas other conditions begin in the head and send pain down to the neck. Getting an accurate diagnosis is important in order to create a treatment program to successfully manage the condition and reduce pain.
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What Advice Do You Have For Someone With Migraine And Neck Pain
Understand that the neck pain is caused by migraine itself rather than any structural problem with the neck. The other advice is to have awareness and pay attention to whether the neck pain is a premonitory symptom. If you notice that you’re rubbing your neck and, especially, that you’re also light sensitive and a little nauseated, then that might be a sign that an attack has started and that one should think about intervening with acute therapy.
Its also important to understand that just because you have neck pain doesn’t mean that you need an MRI scan of your neck to try and identify a problem within the neck as the cause. For the overwhelming majority of those with migraine who have a scan because of neck pain, healthcare providers don’t find structural abnormalities of clinical significance. If you do find something, it often has nothing to do with migraine itself.
It is important to resist the temptation to try to find something in the neck that you’re going to be able to treat and, rather, focus on controlling migraine with effective migraine-specific acute and preventive treatment.
Remember, neck pain is a symptom of migraine. Treatment of migraine will treat pain in the neck.
This article was edited by Angie Glaser and Elizabeth DeStefano, based on an interview with Rebecca Brook NP. Paula K. Dumas also contributed to the content, reviewed by Drs. Starling and Charles.