The Real Reason Migraines and Neck Pain Go Hand in Hand


If you research migraines and neck pain, you will find that the vast majority of migraineurs get neck pain either before or during the attack phase. At the same time, you will rarely receive a reason why. When you do, you will probably find neck pain listed as a migraine trigger. However, a recent study has overturned this fallacy and revealed neck pain for what it truly is: one of the most common migraine symptoms. 

Why Researchers Thought Neck Pain Was a Trigger and Not a Symptoms 

First, we should look at the reasons for the misconception that neck pain is a migraine trigger rather than a symptom. It has to do with the primary migraine trigger – stress. When a person has high levels of stress hormones, it tenses the muscles, particularly in the neck and shoulders. So it was believed that these tense neck and shoulder muscles both led to the pain and contributed to the onset of a migraine. 

Research Reveals that Neck Pain Is a Migraine Symptom 

Researchers in this new study recorded the responses of the muscles in the neck and shoulders to see just how tense they were when a migraine occurred. The results showed an anomaly in the understanding of neck pain and migraines. The results of the study showed different results between a migraine and a tension headache. 

With a tension headache, it really is stress in the neck that precedes the pain. However, when it came to migraine patients, the neck pain was a symptom of the condition and not a trigger. 

Just How Common Is Neck Pain as a Migraine Symptom

In one migraine study in 2018, thousands of responders revealed neck pain to be a migraine symptom. In fact, 69% of the respondents reported neck pain. Other studies reveal that up to 3 out of 4 migraineurs reported neck pain either before or during an attack. This makes neck pain one of the most common symptoms a person can experience as a part of a migraine.

Why Are Neck Pain and Migraines Linked? 

This is the question that researchers have not been able to answer yet. Since the cause of migraines is unknown, and it is unlikely there is one single cause for everyone who has this neurological condition, researchers don’t always know where to look. However, a number of case studies show that the genesis of some migraines is the neck. 

That would explain why so many migraineurs also have neck pain. But what is the link? What can occur in the neck that could lead to the onset of migraines? We want to show you how the upper cervical spine plays a significant role when it comes to the overall function of the central nervous system (CNS). 

The Upper Cervical Spine and the CNS 

The upper cervical spine is comprised of the top two bones in the neck, the atlas and axis. What effect can a misalignment in this part for the neck result in for the nervous system? 

  • Blood flow – The cervical spine facilitates blood flow to the brain. Therefore, any misalignment in this region can affect the amount of oxygen received by certain parts of the brain. Cerebral blood flow is one of the known factors when it comes to migraines.
  • Brainstem function – The atlas surrounds and protects the brainstem, right at the crucial juncture where it meets the spinal cord. A misalignment can place pressure on the brainstem and lead to miscommunications in the CNS. Inhibited brainstem function is another known factor when it comes to migraines.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid drainage – When the upper cervical spine is misaligned, it can prevent cerebrospinal fluid from draining properly. When this fluid beings to pool, it can increase intracranial pressure. All sorts of neurological issues can result from this. 

These are just a few of the significant effects that the tiniest of upper cervical misalignments can have on the central nervous system. Therefore, it makes sense that neck pain is one of the most common symptoms of migraines. It could point to the source of your migraines and present you with a natural solution.

Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic and Migraines  

If you are living with neck pain and migraines, then upper cervical specific chiropractic may be the right option for you. What makes this particular form of chiropractic unique? First of all, it is very precise. X-rays allow the practitioner to pinpoint misalignments down to a fraction of a degree. 

Precision measurements allow the practitioner to offer each patient a uniquely calculated adjustment. Whether the chiropractor uses manual adjustments or an adjusting instrument, the correction will be low force. There is no popping or twisting of the neck. The gentle adjustments are safe for people of all ages and health levels. 

Once the surrounding soft tissue stabilizes, you should be able to leave more time before your appointments. That can make upper cervical chiropractic a cost-effective way to get natural relief. It can be off great benefit to families that have dealt with the high medical bills associated with migraines, perhaps for years. 

To learn more, schedule an appointment with an upper cervical chiropractor near you. The search feature on this site can help you to locate a preferred doctor. You may find that your neck pain and migraines both become a thing of the past once your C1 and C2 return to their proper alignment.

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

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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.