How Dysfunction in the Upper Neck Triggers Migraine

dysfunction, migraine and neck pain

Migraines are no ordinary type of headache or ailment. In truth, it’s a neurological disorder that triggers a laundry list of symptoms, such as throbbing and pounding pain on one side of the head. In some cases, the head pain can take place on both sides of your head. Migraine attacks have varying triggers and risk factors, including age, gender, and genetics. Sometimes, it can also arise from postural problems. Unknown to many, a dysfunction in the upper neck can trigger migraine and neck pain

Are you familiar with your specific migraine triggers? If not, we suggest going through our discussion below. Hopefully, by getting acquainted with these factors, you can cope with your migraine better. 


Migraine Triggers Explained

Upper cervical misalignment

Migraine and neck pain can often stem from a dysfunction in the upper neck caused by an upper cervical misalignment. Your upper cervical spine consists of the top two neck bones. When a misalignment occurs, it affects your brainstem.

Your upper cervical bones called the atlas and axis, hold and protect the brainstem at the bottom part of your brain. Your brainstem plays a vital role in sending signals from your brain to your body. Additionally, it plays a significant role in your other body functions, such as heart rate and breathing.

So when a misalignment in the upper cervical spine occurs, the messages passing through the brainstem become inaccurate and distorted, affecting the brain and the rest of the body. You also tend to get an overload of signals from the brainstem, leading to migraine and neck pain.

When this misalignment is left unaddressed, your brainstem will become highly sensitive, causing more issues. As a result, your sensory input would become heightened. You will experience sensory messages more intensely.

Weather changes

Unfortunately for others, weather changes can trigger brain chemical imbalances that can potentially prompt a migraine episode. Here are some interesting facts on weather-related migraines to help you understand things better:

  • Barometric or air pressure changes before a storm can trigger migraines
  • Warm and humid weather also increases the risk for migraines
  • Bright sunlight means bad news for people with photophobia

When you are already experiencing migraine, a sudden shift in the weather condition may worsen. This is likely a very frustrating trigger because it’s not something you can control. 

Intense sensory stimuli

Known triggers such as bright lights, strong smells, and loud sounds can heighten your senses during a migraine attack. Unfortunately, they can aggravate your condition and cause worse headaches, dizziness, vertigo attacks, and other symptoms. If you have sensory sensitivities, we strongly recommend limiting your exposure to these to prevent the onset of a migraine episode. 

dysfunction, migraine and neck pain






Lack of proper sleep

Restful sleep is essential for you to function well. When sleep-deprived, your body’s pain threshold plummets, making you more susceptible to migraine-related headaches. However, it’s worth noting that while the quality of sleep is essential, too much sleep does not guarantee a life free from migraine and neck pain. In fact, longer sleep can also trigger tension headaches and migraine. Consult with your doctor if you have been experiencing poor sleep quality for some time to identify the specific disorder you have. 

Skipping meals

Skipping meals because of hectic works schedules or intense diet regimens can lead to severe migraine headaches. We strongly recommend carving out enough time to eat a hearty meal. You can also set a timer so you won’t forget to eat even during a busy day. And, if you are on a strict diet, we strongly suggest working with a dietitian to prevent malnutrition and ensure that you get the most out of your meals. 


Fluctuating hormone levels can cause severe migraines, which applies more to women. Sadly for some women, a migraine attack can happen every month, aligning with their menstrual cycle. This can prompt tension headaches and menstrual migraines, which tend to be severe. Hormonal migraines can also afflict women who have just reached the peri-menopausal stage. 


Natural Solution for Migraine and Neck Pain

Now that it’s become more apparent how a dysfunction in the neck causes migraine, it’s just fitting to find the most optimal solution for your condition. Unlike what most people expect, the best solution doesn’t involve taking a bunch of pain relievers. Instead, many healthcare professionals swear by the effectiveness of upper cervical care. 

Upper cervical chiropractic helps restore balance in the body and resolve long-standing problems such as migraine and neck pain. This specialized and unique technique uses precision tools and imaging techniques to identify the severity of the misalignment and plan the adjustments needed. Upper cervical doctors study every case carefully to look at unique features such as bone malformations. On top of that, they also check the potential effects of misaligned C1 and C2 bones, such as unlevelled shoulders, nerve compression, brainstem irritation, stiff neck and shoulders muscles, misaligned hips, and gait problems.   

Nothing good ever comes easy, so it’s not going to be a one-time thing but a series of sessions to correct the alignment. Although you can already experience a significant difference right after your chiropractic adjustment, your subsequent visits will help you retrain your cervical spine so the adjustments you receive will hold. Your follow-up visits will help you devise a better care plan to enjoy a life free from disabling neck pain and migraine episodes. 

You don’t have to endure migraine and neck pain anymore! Contact the nearest upper cervical doctor and schedule your complimentary consultation.


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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.