Do Migraines Cause Neck Pain? The Surprising Answer

Migraines causes neck pain

When you think about migraines, the first thing you probably imagine is the worst headache of your life. But headaches are just one part of what a migraine is, and while they may be the most common symptom, a migraine doesn’t necessarily have a headache phase every time. What are some of the other symptoms of migraines? Can a migraine cause neck pain? The answer may surprise you.

A Study that Shows the Link Between Migraines and Neck Pain

There was an interesting study that took place in Italy which highlights a clear connection between the neck and migraines. 207 patients were examined. Each had self-diagnosed themselves with cervical pain syndrome due to a number of symptoms that included:

  • Neck pain being common in the family
  • Neck pain that was preceded by a number of other symptoms including vertigo and dizziness as well as nausea and/or vomiting
  • The neck pain was commonly triggered by changes in the weather
  • The pain began in the back of the neck

It turned out that 64% of these patients were actually suffering from migraines. Neck pain was just one of the many symptoms that were being caused by the migraines. So it appears that the short answer is, yes, migraines do cause neck pain. However, there is also another way to look at the connection.

Which Came First, the Neck Pain or the Migraines?

What we are left with is a “chicken or the egg” type scenario. But rather than being a philosophical debate, this is all about the underlying cause of the health condition. If neck pain is just a symptom of migraines, it leaves us no closer to understanding how migraines are caused or how to find natural relief. However, if the neck pain is related to the underlying cause of the migraines, we have an avenue of attack for reducing the frequency and severity of migraines, perhaps even eliminating them altogether. We just have to find what is causing the neck pain.

The fact of the matter is that about 75% of migraine patients experience neck pain. Some complain of neck pain during a migraine. Others experience this symptom before the headache phase begins. Either way, it may lead to the discovery of the underlying cause of a person’s migraines. Let us consider several ways that a problem in the neck that can cause pain may also be at the root of migraines.

Neck Problems as a Cause of Migraines

To understand the true connection between the neck and migraines, we need to look closer at the structures of the upper cervical spine. When these bones become misaligned, they can do far more than cause neck pain. Here are a few reasons why:

Supporting Proper Fluid Flow

The upper cervical spine supports both blood and cerebrospinal fluid flow. When the atlas (top bone in the neck) becomes misaligned, this can inhibit the proper drainage of cerebrospinal fluid, thereby leading to increased intracranial pressure as this vital fluid pools in the head. That can contribute to migraines. So can a lack of sufficient blood and oxygen. Since the cervical spine facilitates blood flow to the brain by means of the vertebral foramen, any inhibition caused by a misalignment in the neck can also lead to migraines.

Supporting Brainstem Function

The atlas surrounds and protects the vital area where the brainstem meets the spinal cord. As a result, even a very tiny misalignment can affect brainstem function. Since researchers have connected issues with brainstem function to migraines, this can certainly be a factor.

Balancing the Head and Providing Range of Motion

The C1 and C2 (top two bones in the neck) create about half of the heads range of motion, both forward and back as well as side to side. However, the special shape of these two bones that provides this additional range of motion also subjects them to misalignment. Additionally, the C1 balances the 10-12 pounds of the average human head. Even the slimmest of misalignments must be compensated for with changes taking place in the soft tissue around the neck and throughout the spine.

Plainly, there are enough reasons to look at the neck as a possible underlying cause of migraines. So where can you turn for precision cervical measurements and corrective adjustments if needed? We would like to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic care.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic and Migraines

Upper cervical chiropractic is a subspecialty in the chiropractic field that focuses on the C1 and C2 vertebrae. This involves very precise measurements taken by means of modern diagnostic imaging techniques. These measurements are used to calculate the best adjustment for each patient mathematically. The gentle adjustments are administered with minimal manual pressure or via an adjustment instrument. There is no popping or twisting motion, which makes upper cervical gentle and safe for patients of all health levels and ages.

If you are suffering from frequent migraines, especially if you get neck pain before or during the headache phase, you may be suffering from an upper cervical misalignment. If you would like to schedule an appointment with an upper cervical practitioner near you, the search feature on this site can help you to locate our preferred list of providers. A consultation may be just what you need to get started on the path to finding natural migraine relief. So schedule your appointment today to take control of your health.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Areato schedule a consultation today.

Find an Upper Cervical Specialist In Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

Featured Articles


Montel Williams
Montel Williams

TV show host Montel Williams describes how specific chiropractic care has helped his body.

NBC's The Doctors

The TV show "The Doctors" showcased Upper Cervical Care.

CBS News/Migraine Relief

CBS News highlighted the alleviation of Migraines and Headaches.

The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.