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Can Neck And Back Pain Cause Migraines

When To Worry About Neck Pain With A Headache

6 Steps to Relieve a Headaches & Fix Neck Pain | Migraines, Stiff Neck

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.

How To Treat And Manage Cervicogenic Headaches

A cervicogenic headache can be debilitating and recurrent, but several techniques can help you manage pain and prevent further occurrences.

Your doctor will first confirm that you have a cervicogenic headache. Your doctor may apply pressure to different parts of your neck or base of your head to determine where your pain originates, and to see if a particular spot is triggering a headache. Your doctor may also see if different neck positioning provokes a headache to occur. If either of these things cause a headache, this means the headache is cervicogenic.

Tips To Relieve Headaches From Neck Pain

After youve figured out the cause of your neck pain and headaches, there are things you can do at home to help ease the pain and start to feel better. Heres how to relieve headaches caused by neck pain:

1. Improve Workplace Ergonomics

Adjusting how you work is good for preventing headaches caused by pain in the neck. How you sit at work can put strain and pressure on your neck. If possible, adjust the height of your monitor so you are looking directly at it rather than up or down.

If you sit, choose a chair that is the appropriate height for you. Your feet should rest flat on the floor when you sit, and your knees should be a few inches from the edge of the chair. If you have to look down at paperwork while on the job, consider getting a stand to hold the documents at eye level so you arent constantly bending your neck.

2. Improve Your Posture

Your posture has a significant effect on how your neck feels. If you regularly slouch, you put a lot of extra weight on the head and neck, leading to pain and discomfort.

The first step toward improving your posture is becoming aware of it. When you stand, notice the angle of your back, neck and shoulders. Try to stand up as tall and straight as possible. That means pulling in your stomach and pushing your shoulders back slightly. Your head should be level as if you are balancing a book on it.

3. Improve Your Sleep

4. Exercise More

5. Schedule a Massage

6. Manage Your Stress

7. Try Heat and Cold

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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 Are The Four Stages Or Phases Of A Migraine Whats The Timeline

Neck Pain Relief : Vibrant Life Health & Wellness ...

The four stages in chronological order are the prodrome , aura, headache and postdrome. About 30% of people experience symptoms before their headache starts.

The phases are:

  • Prodrome: The first stage lasts a few hours, or it can last days. You may or may not experience it as it may not happen every time. Some know it as the preheadache or premonitory phase.
  • Aura: The aura phase can last as long as 60 minutes or as little as five. Most people dont experience an aura, and some have both the aura and the headache at the same time.
  • Headache: About four hours to 72 hours is how long the headache lasts. The word ache doesnt do the pain justice because sometimes its mild, but usually, its described as drilling, throbbing or you may feel the sensation of an icepick in your head. Typically it starts on one side of your head and then spreads to the other side.
  • Postdrome: The postdrome stage goes on for a day or two. Its often called a migraine hangover and 80% of those who have migraines experience it.
  • It can take about eight to 72 hours to go through the four stages.

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    What Are The Other Possible Diagnoses

    Cervicogenic headaches may resemble occipital neuralgia, which is a condition that causes localised pain and neurological abnormalities in the distribution of the occipital nerves at the back of the head.

    Migraines may also be confused with cervicogenic headaches. An opinion from a neurologist is frequently sought to be more certain of the diagnosis.

    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.


    Chris Centeno, MD

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    Causes Of Neck Pain With Headache

    As cervicogenic headaches shoot from troubles in the neck, varied conditions may trigger this kind of pain. These conditions consist of degenerative health problems such as osteoarthritis, a whiplash injury, or a troubled disc in the neck. Some kinds of sports and a fall can even lead to injuries of the neck and lead to such headaches.

    Neck pain with headaches may even happen based on the position of how you stand or sit. A driver, hairstylist, carpenter, or someone who is seated at a table may unintentionally push the chin frontward which also moves the head out in front of the body and this forward movement is termed as cervical protraction. Standing or sitting in this stature for long durations can pressurize or lead to stress on the neck and skulls base leading to a headache with neck pain.

    Sleeping in a discomfited posture like with your head too far away to the back or front and off to one particular side can even trigger these kinds of headaches. It can also happen when one sleeps in a chair or sits in bed.

    A pinched or compressed nerve near or in the neck is also one cause of this type of headache.

    How Do Upper Cervical Misalignments Occur

    Headache caused from neck and upper back tension or pain.

    It is important to appreciate that you do not have to have sustained a serious neck injury to be dealing with an upper cervical misalignment. Any kind of head or neck trauma can cause this issue.

    For example, if you have suffered a concussion while playing sports or a whiplash injury from a car accident, a misalignment is likely. But did you know that it takes a collision of only 5 mph to cause a whiplash-type injury? Thus, more than just a sports collision or a fender bender but even a simple slip and fall can result in the problems we are discussing here. Thus, many fail to mention their injuries when filling out a patient history.

    So please keep this in mind when speaking to health practitioners about migraines. Even a desk job where improper posture is sustained throughout the day or a habit of looking down to check a mobile device over and over again can lead to a misalignment in the upper neck.

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    How To Treat Neck Pain That Causes Nausea And Dizziness

    Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

    You may be surprised to know that most headaches, despite what you feel when experiencing them, do not originate from your skull or brain.

    The cause is often rooted in areas like your neck muscles, and the nerves along the scalp may make it feel like the pain is inside your head.

    This connection between your neck and your nerves means that certain cervical ailments can manifest with dizziness, headaches, or nausea as well as neck pain.

    In This Article:

    How Long Will My Migraine Attack Last

    The duration of a migraine attack usually depends on what type of migraine you have and how you treat your symptoms. These tips can help to shorten it.

    An estimated 39 million Americans have migraine, with symptoms that can range from mild to severe, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Migraine attacks previously were thought to be a result of abnormal dilation of blood vessels in the brain, but scientists now believe that the cause may be more complex and involve inherited differences in brain chemistry.

    Women;are much more likely than men to have migraine, as are people with a family history of migraine, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.

    But not all migraine attacks are alike, and not everyone has the same migraine symptoms, says neurologist Alexander Mauskop, MD, a founder and director of the New York Headache Center in Manhattan and White Plains, New York.

    The length of time a migraine attack lasts can vary, too. The National Headache Foundation says most migraine attacks last 4 to 72 hours. But some people have migraines for a shorter time and some people have them for longer its very individual, Dr. Mauskop says.

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    Why Do Neck Pain And Headaches Occur Together

    There is no one special reason for headaches and neck pain to go together. Few conditions may begin as neck problems and then shoot these problems up to the head, while few problems triggered in the head are sent back to the neck. This is the reason why they both occur together.

    Trigeminocervical nucleus, Dura Mater of the brain, brain tissues, and blood vessels in the head and immune system also have their role for the occurrence of these pains together. Besides, the posture of the body can also lead to both the pains at a time.

    To explain it further, a combination of 1 or multiple pain mechanisms and pathways is most responsible for the cause of neck pain and headache together.

    Spine Injury And Headaches

    Can Neck Pain Cause Headaches?

    Dr. Sabers points out that he treats primarily cervicogenic headaches those caused by a problem within the neck or cervical spine. The most common problem in the cervical spine that causes headaches is degeneration of the facet joints, he explains. Facet joints are the small paired joints on the back part of the bony spinal column. When upper facet joints cause pain, it is felt in the upper part of the neck and into the head. There are several different reasons for the facet joint damage that causes cervical spine-related headache pain.

    • In older patients, wear-and-tear arthritis or inflammation within one of the facet joints can cause muscle spasm and tightness that refers pain up into the base of the skull. This muscle tightness can also cause a headache that starts at the base of the skull and wraps up and over the head.
    • In younger people, joint injury is typically the result of trauma. That trauma could be a fall or, most commonly, a motor vehicle accident. Trauma may injure the cartilage within the joint or stretch the capsule to the joint; either condition can lead to chronic pain with associated problems, including headache.

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    When Should I Call My Health Care Provider

    See your health care provider if you have:

    • Loss of bladder or bowel control, with weakness in both legs.; These symptoms require immediate attention

    • Severe back or neck pain that does not decrease with medication and rest

    • Pain after an injury or a fall

    • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in your legs or arms

    • Fever

    • Back and neck problems range from minor aches to severe, disabling pain

    • Often, the reasons for your pain cannot be identified.

    • See a health care provider if you have numbness or tingling, severe; pain that does not improve with medication and rest, difficulty urinating, weakness, pain, or numbness in your legs, fever, unintentional weight loss, or pain after a fall.

    • Often, back and neck pain will improve over time. Consult with your health care provider if your pain is not decreasing.

    • Use prevention strategies to keep yourself healthy and injury-free.

    For severe, disabling, or chronic back pain, consider an individualized rehabilitation program.

    Treating A Tension Headache

    Your doctor might recommend any of a variety of medications, including:

    • Over-the-counter pain relievers. These include ibuprofen or acetaminophen .
    • Prescription pain relievers. Examples include naproxen , ketorolac tromethamine , or indomethacin
    • Triptans. These drugs treat migraines and would be prescribed for someone experiencing tension headaches along with migraines. An example is sumatriptan .

    For migraine, your doctor might also recommend preventive medication, such as:

    • anticonvulsants
    • blood pressure medications

    A pinched nerve occurs when a nerve in your neck is irritated or compressed. With so many sensory nerve fibers in the spinal cord in your neck, a pinched nerve here can result in a number of symptoms, including:

    • stiff neck
    • headache caused by moving your neck

    Other symptoms can include shoulder pain along with muscle weakness and numbness or tingling sensations.

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    Headaches Caused By A Neck Problem

    Headaches stemming from a neck problem are usually chronic and vary in type depending on the cause. Common examples include:

    • Cervicogenic headache . CGH usually begins as a dull ache in the neck and radiates upward along the back of the head, almost always affecting just one side. Pain may also spread to the forehead, temple, and area around the eyes and/or ears. CGH is caused due to an underlying disc, joint, muscle, or nerve disorder in the neck.

    What Causes Back And Neck Pain

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

    Even with today’s technology, the exact cause of back and neck pain is difficult to determine. In most cases, back and neck pain may have many different causes, including any of the following:

    • Overuse, strenuous activity, or improper use, such as repetitive or heavy lifting

    • Trauma, injury, or fractures

    • Degeneration of vertebrae, often caused by stresses on the muscles and ligaments that support your spine, or the effects of aging

    • Infection

    • Abnormal growth, such as a tumor or bone spur

    • Obesity, which places increased weight on your spine, and pressure on your discs

    • Poor muscle tone

    • Joint problems, such as arthritis

    • Smoking

    • Protruding or herniated disk and pinched nerve

    • Osteoporosis and compression fractures

    • Congenital abnormalities of your vertebrae and bones

    • Abdominal problems, such as an aortic aneurysm;

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    Phases Of A Migraine Attack

    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.

    Cervicogenic Headaches Start In The Neck

      A cervicogenic headache starts in the cervical spineyour neck. Sometimes these headaches mimic migraine headache symptoms. Initially, pain may begin intermittently, spread to one side of the patient’s head, and become almost continuous. Furthermore, pain can be exacerbated by neck movement or a particular neck position .Cervicogenic headache pain may be felt behind the brow and forehead, even though the problem originates from the cervical spine. Photo Source:

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