Migraine trigger series: weird head & neck positions
In late May I went to New York City (home of my alma mater, NYU) for a gigantic book conference. I added in an extra day before and after the conference so I could visit friends if I was up to it. As I get to know my migraine patterns better, I try to make little adjustments to my schedule and my life to help take care of myself. Case in point: scheduling a flight that arrived more than a full day before the conference started, as air travel is a common trigger for me. If I have a cushion of a day on either side of my work trip, I’m less likely to have a migraine on the first day of the conference when I want to bring my A game.
Miraculously, I had only two mild migraine episodes the entire ten days I was out of town (I’m composing this blog post on the flight home, so I’m looking around for some wood to knock on since the trip isn’t technically over yet!).
The last night of my trip, I had dinner with a friend I’ve had since the first week of college. She and I met at a cafe in Brooklyn for dinner, and the hostess asked if we’d like to sit inside or outside on the screened-in patio. In spite of the gorgeous weather, we chose to sit inside, where the space would accommodate my long legs and her pregnant belly a little more easily. My friend said, “This is probably better than the outside table anyway—remember how I get a headache my head is at an angle?”
Now that would be something interesting to write about for my migraine.com blog, I thought to myself. I’d forgotten about J.’s fascinating trigger: when she sits with her head at an odd angle (I believe anything other than a straight-ahead, even view fits in this category), she ends up with a headache.
That got me thinking about how I love to lie down and work on my bed, my left hand propping my head up. I wonder sometimes if it’s just force of habit that makes me like this so much, because it’s no longer a comfortable position in any way, shape, or form. Arthritis plus age plus the ease with which my aches and pains pop up mean several of the weird ways I used to comfortably contort my body are now off-limits. That said, I will still sit with my neck at a weird angle sometimes, propped on my hand as I lie on my left side in bed, leaning awkwardly on the straight and unforgiving couch edge while I watch TV.
As time has gone on, I have realized that sitting like this not only makes my neck and body feel achy pretty quickly, it also can trigger a migraine. Is it the angle my head is resting? Does the tension in my neck (which results in a stiff neck) trigger a migraine? As J. briefly recapped her fascinating and seemingly atypical head-at-a-weird-angle trigger, I began to wonder if perhaps this isn’t that uncommon of a trigger after all. It’s just such an odd one it may be hard to pin down.
How about you? Have you ever realized that sitting in an odd position or moving your neck in an atypical way has triggered a migraine? What sorts of positions are best and worst for you in terms of migraine prevention?
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?