“It feels like my migraines start in my neck and move forward. My chiropractor told me I have migraines because my neck is out of alignment. Can you explain this to me?” Jan Anderson.
I have been asked to explain this many times while visiting with migraineurs in person or by phone and have even had migraineurs tell me their headaches are caused by misalignment of their “headache bone” (there is no such thing).
Before I give you an explanation, I must clarify that I am talking about classical hemispheric migraines (compound, complex, chronic, cluster, etc.) and not talking about headaches resulting from a clarion malformation or some other physical reason such as a car accident.
To understand what is happening during this migraine neck pain association, we must look at how the body handles any headache, including those associated with the after affects of drinking too much alcohol.
Our bodies have only one physical remedy to ease the pain in the head and that is to hold the head as still as possible. Even taking a single step can be a thunderous event when your head hurts. The only way to keep the head from moving is for the neck muscles to constrict – to tighten up. Repetitive constrictions can cause painful knots in the muscles.
In my work in migraine research and prevention I don’t hear young migraineurs complaining about neck pain associated with migraines; whereas, Eileen, who suffered for 43 years with migraines (before we discovered migraine prevention), actually had such neck pain associated with her migraines to the point where I could feel the knot at the base of her skull.
Most migraineurs tell me they can sense a migraine forming before it actually reaches the painful state. Even before you become conscious of a migraine forming, your body has already received the message, and in particular, your neck muscles are starting to react.
Your neck muscles have been trained throughout the many years of headache pain to constrict whenever they get the message of a pending migraine. These muscle constrictions can cause a great deal of lingering pain in your neck.
The pain in your neck happens because you get migraines and not the other way around. However, because the neck pain precedes the actual migraine headache pain (separate pains) it feels as though the neck pain has caused the migraine.
Now you know. The neck pain is not the cause of your migraines. The actual cause and reason you get migraines is far removed from any pain or discomforts that you may feel in your neck, jaw, or the stuffiness you may feel in your sinus area. I will explain the latter two in future articles.
Don’t ever give up - Migraines Can Be Prevented.
Tuliv Migraine Research