Migraines Caused by Neck Issues?

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I’m still struggling with migraines, but am starting to think that they might actually be cervicogenic headaches (caused by issues in the neck). The last few days, the left side of my neck has been visibly swollen and extremely tight, causing a great deal of pain. I can’t help but notice that the worse the neck pain is, the worse the headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue become as well.

One person on Facebook who also suffers from Ehlers Danlos even suggested that perhaps the migraines may be due to a chiari malformation or craniocervical instability, which are both common issues associated with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I have wondered about the neck instability possibility, as I often feel like my head is excessively heavy, not supported well by my neck, and sometimes bobbles around almost like a bobblehead. Whenever I sit for long, I have to have a neck rest because my pain worsens quickly if I have to hold my head up without support.

Unfortunately, it looks like if instability is the issue, the answer might be this huge, horribly-uncomfortable-looking neck brace that looks like it would be sensory hell for me. Of course, I do know from a prior MRI that I also have degenerative disc disease throughout my cervical and thoracic spine, and at least a couple herniated cervical discs. Whatever the issue, I wish it would clear up soon! This is miserable and I feel like I am living on NSAIDS, muscle relaxers, and Lidocaine right now.

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26 thoughts on “Migraines Caused by Neck Issues?

  1. You might have more damage than me, but for now I’m doing focused physical therapy and trying to avoid a brace there. Getting my cane has helped me deal with the fact that my neck can’t support itself and maintain a safer posture. I had a dozy of a migraine last week, but overall EDS-focused neck therapy and my cane for stability and helping maintain posture has reduced neck pain and migraines. Before I’d ever go full brace, I’d probably try a posture supporting undergarment for EDS. They exist, and seem to help some others I follow.

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  2. Hope that helps. Also, a year into formal EDS diagnosis the new rule for me seems to be “if it’s weird and physical, it was probably part of the EDS all along.” Add in how many zebras now are acknowledged to have ADHD (and end up in negative situations) and probably a lot of my fun stuff going on in my brain relates at least tangentially to having it and being undiagnosed until adulthood. Ugh.

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      1. I have to on principle still claim ADHD as its own diagnosis in solidarity with the fact that the directionality seems to be that having EDS makes it more likely you have ADHD, but plenty of people have it without the EDS and still deserve adaptations. I’ve seen some stigma around “thank God I don’t have *real* ADHD, I just have traits that look like it because EDS” on online groups. And, well, I’m all about recognizing “real” ADHD as nothing to deserve stigma. But, I do have to admit that “real ADHD” (and ASD) co-occurs in my family pretty closely with those who also have/had signs of EDS. I’ll always be an ADHD…whatever we call ourselves (shiny?)…advocate in addition to a zebra advocate. But, eh, there’s definitely a connection. And also neurodiverse advocacy all the way, because science and life are complicated, yo. 😉

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    1. I used to use muscle rubs, but find the lidocaine actually works better for me personally. The lidocaine has also decreased my reliance on opioid painkillers which I appreciate. I also had migraines before I had neck issues, but if I did have chiari or cervical instability, it could have been referred pain all along and I just didn’t know it I suppose.

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  3. I’m in the exact same boat as you. I found out it was cervicogenic headaches when I was suffering through a horrible one, I looked to the right, and my neck popped so loud it sounded like a gunshot. My headache went from a 10 to a 0 in all of 5 seconds. MRIs said stage 2 spinal degeneration with just about every disc in my neck and lower back herniated and one torn neck disc.

    Cervicogenic headaches apparently differ from migraines in that they feel more like a tension headache, running in a band from at least one side of the head around to the front and the eye(s). I have a hypertropied tendon in the left side of my neck that gets pinched which helps trigger mine.

    Inversion table, yoga, and alternating heat and cold have been my treatment plan.

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    1. I don’t think I’m familiar with inversion table. I couldn’t do yoga during a flare up, but once it settles down I might try to start doing some gentle stretches for the neck. I am icing it as we speak lol.

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  4. This may be a load of hokki, but I’ve heard a daith piercing is supposed to really help for some reason? I mean, I love piercings anyway, but I don’t know how you feel about getting one 🤷‍♀️

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  5. Although I don’t think it’s recommended anymore medically, when I need neck support I use an old soft collar. (I have a prolapsed neck disc.) I have a hard collar from the hospital but it is SO uncomfortable. I think I will only wear it if my head is in danger of falling off! The soft one doesn’t immobilise my neck but just gives some support which helps stop my muscles staying in spasm. I’ve heard about migraines being caused by neck issues too. I guess it kind of makes sense if you think how many nerves go through the neck!

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