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Can Neck Conditions Cause Headaches or Migraines?

Given the strong correlation between neck pain and migraines, it is worth considering neck pain treatments in conjunction with your efforts to mitigate migraine attacks. You can achieve both of these objectives simultaneously through comprehensive, multi-disciplinary neck pain and migraine treatment.

Tightness in the muscles of the shoulders and neck can often lead to headaches. The tightness stimulates the nerves that travel from the neck to the head. When the nerve impulse begins to fire, the pain can move to the head, where a headache can occur. This type of disorder, a cervicogenic headache, is called that because it stems from the cervical spine (neck).

Migraine attacks arising from neck pain can also occur, although they are not as common, as noted by Dr. David Salisbury, DO. The exact processes through which a migraine arises in the head are not yet completely evident. However, the mainstream neurological understanding is that a blend of changes occur within the head's blood vessels and nerves. Neck tightness could lead to a migraine in exactly the same manner as a cervicogenic headache: it could stimulate the nerves that go to the head, but a migraine could arise instead – a likelier scenario in someone who experiences regular migraine attacks.

Connection Between Neck Pain and Migraines

People often associate nausea with migraines. However, neck pain seems to have an even closer connection – it was listed as occurring more often with attacks than nausea by the 113 participants in a 2010 study. Another poll revealed that 75 percent of the 144 patients surveyed said that they had neck pain occur alongside their migraines. Since this correlation is so strong, many believe that neck pain relief could naturally lead to migraine relief.

Another possible issue is that you might have the wrong diagnosis. Often patients are misdiagnosed with cluster headaches or migraines when they are actually suffering from cervicogenic headaches, said Brooklyn-based anesthesiologist Dr. Lawrence M. Kamhi, MD, FIPP.

Neck Pain & Migraine Treatment

It is important to note that using chiropractic care for neck pain relief has been shown to additionally provide migraine relief. One study found that 11 patients who received chiropractic care for two months were able to reduce the number of days per month that they were suffering from migraines from 14.5 to 8.7.

Are you experiencing migraine attacks that you believe might be arising, in part, from tightness in your neck? At Envista Medical, we provide chiropractic care along with spinal decompression, physiotherapy, and interventional medicine to address and treat the underlying causes of your chronic neck pain and headaches or migraines.