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Old 02-27-2011, 08:25 PM   #1
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Flamommy2boys HB User
Can cervical issues cause headaches

Hi all, I have been wondering if what is summarized in my radiology report of a C-spine MRI

could possibly be causing nightly migraines and thruout the day headaches for about the past week.

I am not very good at reading these things and am trying to look it up word by word on the Net.

But well my darn head hurts. If anyone has the patience or time to help me get a slight understanding what this all means as far as pain

and possible headaches. Ontop of these horrible night migraines I have shooting pain mid arms thru elbows and tingly numbness in pinky and ring fingers on left and right side. My PM team has not really said much so.

Straightening of normal cervical lordosis mild reversal and minimal rotary curve.

Minimal Grd 1 anterolisthesis of C3 on C4.

At C2-3 no signifacnt disc bulge.

Mild hyprtrphic facet disease and uncovertbral joint hypertrophy.

No stenosis

Very mild narrowng of neural foramen bilaterally (left greatr thn right)

C3-4 no signfcnt disc bulge

hyprtrphic and uncovertbral jnt hypertphy

no stenosis minimal narrwing of right neurl foramen

reltively mild narwing of left foramen

C4-5 minmal disc blge-osteophyte complx

hyprtrphic dis. and joint hypertrphy

no stenosis mild narwing of right neurl formen mild-moderate of left neurl formen

C5-6 min. disc blge

hypertroph disease and uncovert. joint hypertrophy

no stenosis and bi lateral neurl formen narwing

C6-7 no bulge mild hyper facet disease and oncovert joint on left

no stenosis no right narwing mild left narwing.

C7-T1 nothing

In your opinions do you think this report could be some of this blasted migraine or should i just drink

more water and take some aspirin.

Thanks in advanced for your opinions and should I stop stretching my neck and shoulders for now or carry on as usual.

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Old 02-28-2011, 08:19 AM   #2
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Re: Can cervical issues cause headaches

I don't have any expertise in interpreting MRIs, but I do have personal experience with "neck headaches". I used to have them every morning but my doctor put me on Soma at bed time & I switched to a water pillow.

Most mornings, I put an ice pack on my neck first thing. That helps a lot.

I think this is definitely something that you would want to discuss with a spine specialist. But, from personal experience, I can say it sure is possible for your neck to cause headaches.

Old 02-28-2011, 08:34 AM   #3
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Re: Can cervical issues cause headaches

Hi. I agree with sassy that your neck issues, tho the MRI describes it all as "mild" can be the cause of your headaches. Some people can have mild bulging, or mild narrowing of the nerve openings without symptoms while others will have a lot of pain.

While none of us here are doctors, I gather that you have some facet disease, perhaps arthritis, which is causing the facets to come larger.

If I were you, I would see an Orthopedic Spine Specialist or a neurosurgeon with a fellowship in the treatment of spinal issues. They are the best at reading MRI's and can sometimes spot things that have been missed. They also have a lot of experience in treating spinal problems and can best offer you the right treatment. By no means am I suggesting that you need surgery...just that you need someone more experienced than a PM to make a correct diagnosis.

There are a variety of ways that can offer relief, such as physical therapy, injections, and medication. I would suggest you look up all the terms that apply to your condition such as facet hypertrophy so that you have a better understanding of your problems and therefore can better understand what your doctor is telling you.

Please stay in touch and let us know how you are doing.

Lumbar surgery x 7 over the last 30 years.
cervical fusion...2 levels
medtronic pain pump implanted
Last surgery Oct, 2010, 3 levels

Old 02-28-2011, 03:47 PM   #4
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Re: Can cervical issues cause headaches

Ahh, thanks.
I'm glad the report says mild and minimal. I am hypersensitive to my body but very low tolerance to meds. I saw PM today. He thinks that maybe the zanaflex is causing headaches since it is occipital migraine.
They are a great practice and I am very lucky to have found them if I so much as mutter an ow
they xray or image that part right away.
I figured I'd get some ideas from other cervical ppl.
I am now 7 months post lumbar fusion and want to not have to think of surgery. I have a disc protrusion in thoracic as well,
but I dont think would cause headaches...who knows.
If my body hurts like this at 35 what the heck am I gonna feel like at 45 and so on...
Thanks for the ideas on spine specialists and orthos...

Old 03-01-2011, 04:43 PM   #5
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Re: Can cervical issues cause headaches


I think I get headaches from my cervical issues. I also get migraines, but my migraines aren't related to my spine problems. My PM told me cervical arthritis & stenosis can cause headaches.

My headaches due to my neck occur when I'm having a lot of bad neck pain & spasms. The pain will go up the back of my head and wrap around both sides, sometimes into the back of my eyes. Anytime I get ESI's, these headaches completely stop. If I have them and haven't gotten an ESI recently, I'll take ibuprofen and/or tyelnol, but it doesn't work very well. If the pain goes away at all, it comes back within a couple hours. Seems for me, steroids are the only thing that really helps these headaches.

My migraines are mainly caused by light and different patterns. Normally I get migraine without headaches, though over the past several years, I have been getting the headache also some of the time. I have Imitrex for migraines and it works great for me. Imitrex only works for migraines, though, not other types of headaches.

Old 03-01-2011, 05:06 PM   #6
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Re: Can cervical issues cause headaches

A lot of us "cervical" people hang out on the Spinal Cord Disorders board and I can tell you that headaches are almost universal with neck problems. If it isn't the nerves being irritated or the cord being pressed on or the spinal fluid getting blocked from flowing freely or the simple inflammation of arthritis, then it's all of the above doing a number on our heads.

I am good at interpreting MRI results and you have a messed up neck but nothing that a surgeon will touch. They wait until those "minimals" and "milds" turn to "moderates" and usually, the "severe" level. Once you hit severe, you know it's time.

But arthritis of various joints on the vertebrae is a pain. PT helps, I found, especially if you can find a physical therapist who specializes in spine care. Learn how to stretch the muscles of the neck by yourself for good relief at home. And heat helps but sometimes ice. I use muscle relaxers at bedtime if it's been a bad day. And find a great that works for YOU not one advertised to work for you. May take some tries and cost a little but after spending lots so of money on advertised pillows, I bought a cheap "side sleeper" pillow and it's been great. Brought my chronic pain way down. I sleep mostly on my side so why by a pillow for a back sleeper? Duh! So figure out how you like to sleep the most(position wise) and get a neck pillow made for that position.

And then find a really good spine doc to help you along the way until you are ready for surgery. Then go see the best spine surgeon(ortho or neuro) you can at a major medical center, preferably one with a medical school so you know they teach and are up on the latest surgeries. From all the people I've talked to, there is one thing I can confidently say...that the results of your surgery are directly related to the expertise of your surgeon. The better they are, the better you will be. Find the best. It may be the difference between a lifetime of pain or being like me...I take a Tylenol now and then and that's it for pain. I dislocated 5 vertebrae and broke 3.

In the meantime, lie down if you can when your head hurts. It helps to equalize the spinal fluid in the back and head and that may relieve the pain.

good luck............Jenny(fused C3 to T1)

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Flamommy2boys (03-02-2011)
Old 03-02-2011, 06:37 AM   #7
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Re: Can cervical issues cause headaches

I get both migraines & neck headaches & there is a definite difference. My migraines are hormone driven & the pain is quite different than my typical am neck headache.

My headaches are less frequent (knocking on wood) since I started taking a Soma at night. I still rely on the ice pack on my neck.

My lumbar issues are the big concern for my doctors. My cervical MRI shows "moderate" arthritis & DDD, with no nerve compression, so nobody pays any attention to my neck.

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Old 03-02-2011, 04:40 PM   #8
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Re: Can cervical issues cause headaches

Problems in both the cervical and thoracic area can cause migraines, it can shoot pain upward like nerve pain, or cause a spasmic tightening pain, it can go into your jaws, cheeks, and eyes too. I get both mild headaches and migraines with it. The only thing that stopped that for me was physical therapy and reducing my back/neck pain through exercising, ultrasounds, ice, and myofacial pain release. I don't get headaches too bad now, but if you don't get treatment for your neck, they will just keep coming back headstrong. I used to take excedrin migraine tablets and it helped some.

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Flamommy2boys (03-02-2011)
Old 04-18-2011, 07:30 PM   #9
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Re: Can cervical issues cause headaches

Oh, yes, the above responders are so right! Cervical disorders DO cause headaches. Despite three fusion surgeries (two anterior and one posterior), I suffer from chronic cervicogenic headaches - almost daily. They are miserable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God Bless!!

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