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Old 03-12-2011, 11:35 PM   #1
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Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

I've recently been hearing a lot about neck problems causing headaches and migraines and am interested in learning more. It seems that so many things are related, yet I don't know how I could tell what the root cause of everything is! I get headaches very often and also get migraines. My migraines can range from moderate where I just need to rest and it's hard to do things, to more severe where I am crippled and unable to do anything. I'm seeing a neurologist to treat the headaches and migraines. So far I haven't found the right mix of treatment through medication, but it's only been about a month.

In addition to my head symptoms, my ears ring constantly and every day, I have vertigo regularly, a tight and sometimes sore jaw, and a tight neck and shoulders. Also, my neck/base of my head has been making a lot of popping sounds! This has happened before, but it's happening MUCH more than before. It happens when laying down, when sitting, standing, sometimes when I'm not even moving at all. It's a smaller pop than popping my neck, almost like a click. My neck is usually a little tight and sore, but the pops are not painful at all.

With the regular neck popping (it's made the sounds at least 20 times just during typing this message- VERY regularly occurring), it makes me wonder if I do have some kind of neck stress that I need to treat. It sounds like physical therapy is one of the best options, as it has a much higher success rate than surgery. How can I tell if I should look into this further? I know I have TMJ symptoms, which can also be related to the neck (but which comes first?).

I found a headache institute in my city that treats patients whose symptoms stem from the neck. It sounded very interesting to me and I'm wanting to look into it. First I am meeting with my neurologist some more and will soon get a brain MRI. I think I might go visit this new place afterwards as well. Has anyone dealt with any of this or know any information?

PS- I do ABSOLUTELY know that some of my migraines are due to hormones, as they occur during menstruation. I ALWAYS get my absolute worst migraines during that time of the month. I know that these don't seem to be related to my neck in any way. I think the regular headaches (tension-type headaches) could be something else though. If the moderate migraines might be sometimes caused by this too, it would be so wonderful to at least treat those.

 
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:54 PM   #2
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

How are you doing?

 
Old 03-18-2011, 01:08 AM   #3
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Is certainly sounds like your upper body is tensed up! Have you ever seen a picture of the human body in it's muscular form? If you have you will be able to see where all the muscles connect to eachother and how they relate to eachother. I used to do massages along with acupressure so I know well the benefits of at least massage. You can on your own do some stretches for your back and shoulders by hugging yourself and by using your thumbs you can massage along your neck with a bit of olive oil and if you find a knot...knead it with your thumb. You may not be able to get the kink out in one day but tenacity is the key. Also finger your head when you have a headache, you will find sore spots which are irritated nerves. You can massage those pressure points with your fingers or what I prefer is a gallon zip bag half full with cubed ice with a towel o Ed it and I use it as a pressure point plillow. Feels soooo gooood! Hope I helped some. I'm still on my quest for the magic pill. Feel better.

 
Old 03-18-2011, 07:03 AM   #4
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Hi there and thank you so much for the tips! I definitely think massage and just simple relaxation techniques can help lessen the severity of headaches and related pains. I just called a headache institute in my area to get an evaluation soon. This is a place that specializes in physical therapy for headache/migraine troubles! I had never heard of such a place. They explained to me how cervical spine problems or stress can cause pain in the head, jaw, sinuses, and ears. I definitely was curious to see if that's a possibility for me. If they agree that it looks like it will help me, then I will start regular visits to do various exercises that will help! I'll definitely update later on if I find relief. I have a neck wrap that you can put in the freezer or heat. I actually misplaced it! I was looking for it last time I started getting a migraine, but I know I can't think straight during those times, so it's probably somewhere very obvious. I also started using a memory foam pillow to see if that helps my neck be more comfortable at night.

I know that my worst migraines are hormone-related, so mainly I think the above will help with the tension headaches and moderate migraines that occur from stress. I'm taking medication for the others and hope to find the right ones very soon!

I saw some of your other posts and hope you are also able to find relief and the right medication! After taking nortriptyline each night as a preventive, it wasn't helping me, so I'll be switching to topamax starting tonight. I have Maxalt MLT to take for the migraines when they occur, and so far it's been very good. You have to take that one right at the start of the migraine, or it won't work. That's my problem... sometimes I wake with one already well in progress and then start throwing up the medicine if I take it. I got samples of frova to try when I am expecting my menstrual migraines (which are my worst). The Maxalt MLT is awesome since you don't need water... it was excellent to take when I started getting a migraine while driving (my commute with traffic is about an hour and I didn't want to wait).

 
Old 03-19-2011, 05:12 PM   #5
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Oooo Maxalt and I don't get along. I tried it twice with the same results ie tightness in the chest, feeling faint and heart palpitations. It was enough to scare the begeebees out of me! All the other basic meds like vicodine and ibuprofen if taken enough one can end up getting piggy-back headaches which are worse because now your dealing with two at the same time! It took me awhile to figure that one out. Cudose to you for finding that headache clinic our HMO doesn't have one. Counting my mother as first generation because I'm unaware of my grandmother or any of my aunts having migraines, I can say that it began with my mother and spand out two generations of famales on her side so far. Let me know how it goes at the headache institute(?) A friend of mine has back issues from her lumbar to her cervical and so far no headaches but lots of pain in one of her arms. Just remember that not everyone is the same when it comes to meds because our chemistry is different and how we assimilate drugs and react to them will be different too.

 
Old 03-20-2011, 08:52 PM   #6
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lilredsmom View Post
Oooo Maxalt and I don't get along. I tried it twice with the same results ie tightness in the chest, feeling faint and heart palpitations. It was enough to scare the begeebees out of me! All the other basic meds like vicodine and ibuprofen if taken enough one can end up getting piggy-back headaches which are worse because now your dealing with two at the same time! It took me awhile to figure that one out. Cudose to you for finding that headache clinic our HMO doesn't have one. Counting my mother as first generation because I'm unaware of my grandmother or any of my aunts having migraines, I can say that it began with my mother and spand out two generations of famales on her side so far. Let me know how it goes at the headache institute(?) A friend of mine has back issues from her lumbar to her cervical and so far no headaches but lots of pain in one of her arms. Just remember that not everyone is the same when it comes to meds because our chemistry is different and how we assimilate drugs and react to them will be different too.
Adverse side effects are never fun to deal with! At least now you know what does NOT work for you. Right now, Maxalt MLT seems to be what has worked best for me. I have been taking Frova for the past few days for my menstrual migraine I was expecting and unfortunately it did NOT work. Bummer! I had heard good things about it for menstrual migraines. My doc suggested I take it twice a day while I am expecting the migraine. I was feeling "out of it" this morning and thought, oh maybe this is the migraine and it's helping with the pain so I just feel a little weird and that's it. Unfortunately the pain started coming on, so I headed home and got home just in time. It had been 2 hours, so I took a second Frova, and it didn't work for me. I was in bed all day still hurting. One good thing is that I didn't throw up, so maybe it helped with that. After a while with no luck, I took some Excedrin Tension Headache (since that's all I had other than ibuprofen and tylenol) and THAT helped me gradually feel normal. I'm feeling much better now! Thankfully the migraine was only for half a day, but it was the Excedrin that helped.

I couldn't take Maxalt MLT since you can't take it with Frova within 24 hours, so hopefully I won't feel bad again before then.

Although notriptyline was giving me heart palpitations, I only feel this minimally now and as long as it isn't life threatening and stays as is, I'd be fine with it if I see some kind of benefit. I just haven't seen improvement yet. I was so disappointed that I can't take Topamax since it makes the birth control pill less effective... I rely on the pill to cut down on my menstrual migraines, and getting pregnant would be devastating to me since I can't seen to even take care of my head issues yet. Hmmm what else to try! I'll be calling my doctor tomorrow morning to talk about other options. I am so looking forward to seeing the headache institute... I hope I get that scheduled very soon!

 
Old 03-21-2011, 02:15 PM   #7
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

That's what I'm saying. Four days out of seven with headaches is not good. I never thought the Topamax would stop working and I hate having to take so much ashton because my arthritis medication is very strong and thins my blood as well so I've had to stop taking that in order to take the Exedrin which doesn't touch the arthritis.

 
Old 03-23-2011, 07:35 PM   #8
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

It definitely sounds funny saying I'm going to an institute, but I guess that's what they call the place! Since I made the appointment, my neck has been feeling much worse. It's like a sign that I am hopefully going to the right place! Although mornings are the worst for my vertigo and some other things, my neck feels the most normal at the start of the day. As the day goes on, my neck/base of skull starts to ache and it continues to get worse. This while I'm at work and I have a desk job. I really wonder if it could be something as simple as poor posture while sitting at the computer. This does NOT cause all of my migraines, but maybe it's causing the daily tension headaches and neck/base of skull aches. I've had to take migraine medicine for the past 3 days straight, and I only get 12 pills a month (I took 4 of them...) so I hope this doesn't continue or I'll run out of medicine. What happens is I'm able to just deal with the tension headaches/neck pains and once it hits around 6:00pm, I feel awful and it starts to trigger a migraine. Sometimes I think adrenaline is getting me through the day at work, but just barely getting me by! Then I get home and my body crashes out on me. It's getting harder to get through the day and it's definitely affecting my thinking/concentration.

I read on the headache institute's website that some patients found relief by doing their various exercises and then some would lay down for a few minutes at regular intervals. I have no idea about how I could lay down while at the office (especially since I am in a cubicle and don't have any privacy), but I notice that once I lay down and don't have the weight of my head on my neck, it helps! I wonder if I possibly pulled something while sleeping and made myself extra sensitive to sitting at the computer at work. Who knows! By the end of the day, the neck aches just make me feel nauseous! It's more like something is grabbing me in that area and it continues to get more and more... not like a throbbing, sharp migraine-type pain.

 
Old 05-12-2012, 02:46 AM   #9
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Hi tUrRrRa,

I was wondering if the physical therapy helped your neck and other problems,

Thanks

gjoy

 
Old 05-16-2012, 10:44 AM   #10
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Hi gjoy, sorry I've taken so long to reply to your question.

To be honest, the physical therapy did help some when I was going twice per week. Once I started going less often, I felt like everything went downhill and I lost all my progress. Since I was still doing my neck exercises, something the physical therapist was doing must have been helping. He would do some kind of pressing motion on a specific spot of my neck and even use a little hammer-like device that taps on the area. It sure does sound a lot of like chiropractic treatment to me, but he said they are not adjustments. I'm not too familiar with PT methods, so I'm not exactly sure what you would call this.

I have been able to feel decent for the most part and not get worse, but I actually did decide on seeing a chiropractor in my near future. I will be going to an upper cervical chiropractor (we only have 2 in the whole city that do these specialized adjustments) end of June. I completely understand that not everyone likes this route and yes there are risks, but diagnostic tests are done beforehand to see what is going on and the risks are far less than many other treatments out there. They also had great explanations for my symptoms and I felt comfortable there.. and for once left the office in a good mood! I always felt troubled and anxious leaving other places. During the initial consultation, I learned that I hold 10 pounds more on my right side even when standing straight. They also used a special scanner that shows inflammation. I didn't think it would be accurate, but it actually did pick up my "trouble spots" without me telling them. Something simple as poor posture while working on the computer over the years and a couple of minor car accidents could have caused this stuff.

I hope everyone is feeling okay and doing well! Take care!

 
Old 05-18-2012, 07:33 PM   #11
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Hi tUrRrRa,

Thanks for your reply. I too have found the physical therapy good for my head which seems to have constant pressure in it. There is a particular spot mid back of my head that the physio works on, just as you described. My whole head is not so painful but just heavy and feeling like someone is squeezing it. The physiotherapy seemed to lighten my head a good deal, but unfortunately it does not last. The last neurologist explained my problems as a migraine type condition. There is one particular spot behind my right ear that often aches which is relieved by the manipulation. This pain seems to be brought on by sound or light.

The chiropractor sounds interesting. I hope you have success there.

I am thinking of trying acupuncture, as I have heard some people have success with it for head problems. I will let you know how I get on,

gjoy

Last edited by gjoy; 05-18-2012 at 07:34 PM.

 
Old 05-18-2012, 08:06 PM   #12
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Hi there! I am glad the physiotherapy helped some, but that's unfortunate that the results were not lasting. I know a few people who said that they really liked acupuncture and it helped them out. It's definitely worth looking into! That's good to know that your neurologist was able to explain that it was related to migraines. I wonder if that is a possibility for me too. I hope you are able to find something that gives you lasting relief soon!

 
Old 05-19-2012, 03:32 AM   #13
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Thanks tUrRrRa for your support. I suppose the main thing about the physiotherapy is I am on the right track. Although the neurologist explained it as a migraine type condition, he said there was nothing wrong with my neck after looking at the mri. The physio had sent a letter explaining why he thought the problems were from my neck and i had also seen an oral specialist (with a dental background) who said the same, and had a copy of his letter. The neuro wasn't buying it. He did however say there are lots of things we don't fully understand.

I am considerably better than I was and most people don't realise I am still having problems. That is the way I like it.

Have you changed your diet at all? The natural doctor I see relates many problems back to diet and the state of your gut, including migraine. I am not sure whether the changes I have made to my diet are what has helped but I am sticking with it.

Let us know how you get on with the chiropractor. I know years ago when I went regularly to to the chiropractor I felt really good.

Good luck

gjoy

 
Old 05-19-2012, 03:33 AM   #14
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Thanks tUrRrRa for your support. I suppose the main thing about the physiotherapy is I am on the right track. Although the neurologist explained it as a migraine type condition, he said there was nothing wrong with my neck after looking at the mri. The physio had sent a letter explaining why he thought the problems were from my neck and i had also seen an oral specialist (with a dental background) who said the same, and had a copy of his letter. The neuro wasn't buying it. He did however say there are lots of things we don't fully understand.

I am considerably better than I was and most people don't realise I am still having problems. That is the way I like it.

Have you changed your diet at all? The natural doctor I see relates many problems back to diet and the state of your gut, including migraine. I am not sure whether the changes I have made to my diet are what has helped but I am sticking with it.

Let us know how you get on with the chiropractor. I know years ago when I went regularly to to the chiropractor I felt really good.

Good luck

gjoy

 
Old 05-19-2012, 11:26 AM   #15
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Re: Neck problems causing headaches/migraines?

Gjoy, I am that there wasn't anything wrong with your neck showing on the MRI, but still tricky to control things that are related to migraines. I know neck issues can definitely come on with migraines. I didn't really have anything more than a stiff neck with migraines, but I suppose it can change over the years!

I have made minor diet changes over the years. The biggest thing for me was giving up chocolate. I haven't had it in years! I realized that it was a migraine trigger for me. I also notice that some wines bother me. Haven't noticed any migraine symptoms with cheese and some of the others, but I definitely keep an eye out for that. Someone recommended I try going gluten-free, but I have not tried that yet. It would definitely be a challenge! For my headaches/migraines and for my own health and stay in shape, I try to eat a higher protein diet and watch my grains and sugars. Too many grains and sugars at once tends to make me feel bad. I also try to not go too long without eating. I keep healthy snacks around at work (usually some nuts) so I can eat every few hours or so. I hope any changes you have made help you too! Diet can play such a big part in how we feel.

Speaking of drinks, I tried to give up artificial sweeteners and honestly, I felt miserable! I even started getting a migraine that day. This is the one thing I don't really plan to give up, even though it isn't natural. I just try to not have a lot of it. I chew gum occasionally and usually have 1 diet soda per day. When I get a migraine, I let myself have as much diet soda as I want, because for some reason it seems to help me! I definitely think that some people do NOT do well with artificial sweetener though. Same goes for alcohol. I feel fine as long as I have it in moderation and avoid the certain wines that bother me.

I'm glad that you liked going to the chiropractor in the past! I have never gone to one before, so it will be brand new for me. A lot of people seem against them, but I'd like to give it a try. The one I plan to see next month takes a very conservative approach.

 
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