Neck Pain and Migraine

Although neck pain doesn’t get a lot of attention as a migraine symptom, it’s actually more common than nausea, a hallmark symptom of migraine.1 In a recent study, 69% of people with migraine had neck disability and 92% with chronic migraine did. Researchers also found that people with migraine have more neck pain, more trigger points in the neck, more tenderness in neck muscles and less range of motion than those without migraine.2

The degree of neck pain disability in people with chronic migraine and episodic migraine was the focus of “Neck Pain Disability Is Related to the Frequency of Migraine Attacks: A Cross‐Sectional Study,” published in the June 2014 issue of the journal Headache. Researchers found that:

  • Neck pain disability is high for both people with episodic migraine (69%) and those with chronic migraine (92%).
  • People with chronic migraine are more likely to have neck pain than those with episodic migraine, but if a person has neck pain, the degree of disability is similar whether a person has episodic or chronic migraine.
  • People with chronic are more likely to have any disability due to neck problems, including severe disability, than those with episodic migraine.
  • Neck pain is a significant predictor of migraine-related disability no matter what the frequency or severity of a person’s migraine attacks are.

Researchers recommend that doctors consider the contribution of neck pain in a patient’s migraine-related disability and suggest possible techniques for managing neck pain and, thus, migraine disability. These include education about posture and self-management of neck pain as well as physical therapy.

Do you have neck pain with migraine attacks? Does the neck pain persist between migraine attacks? What techniques have you found useful in managing neck pain?

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