Dealing With The Aches And Pain Of Migraine

Last updated: November 2022

Walking through our kitchen two days after a migraine attack, my shoulders still hurt. Body aches are a thing when I have a full-blown migraine. The pain usually sticks to the upper part of my body, so my jaw, neck, and shoulders end up feeling stiff and rusted shut like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

Where does the pain start?

Honestly, the tightening of my shoulders can also take part in my prodrome process. Along with feeling super jet lagged and cranky, my achy shoulders can warn me a migraine is shortly on its way. My shoulders, along with my neck, are the first to clench up and the last to let go. Not wanting to stretch them out (because over-stretching might trigger a migraine), I opt for warm showers and topical treatments. The problem (other than the obvious discomfort), is this ache keeps the memory of my head pain close making it hard to stay in the present moment for my son.

How does it affect my son?

“Mom, you want to play hide and seek?” my 8-year-old asks. I’m still dragging from the icky twinges in my neck, but I tell him I’d love to. I try to choose bigger hiding spaces and not contort myself into tiny, unseen balls in closets or under beds. Obvious places like behind the bedroom curtains or tucked away behind bathroom doors always gets a laugh, so that's my play. My hope is that I can play while keeping my shoulder pain down and a new migraine at bay. My son seems happy enough, but I wish I could play a game where I don’t have to consider my head pain — only my son.

What effect does migraine have on me?

Later that night, I take my second hot shower and break out the topical CBD oil that gives me a little relief. My shoulders relax a bit as I settle into bed, and I wonder if tomorrow will be a less achy day. It usually takes 2 days for the aches to go away totally, and then, of course, a week or so later, the entire pattern starts again. Living with chronic migraine isn’t only about head pain — even though that’s the greatest part of my pain. It can be tough dealing with all the other weird changes migraine unpacks on my body, like nausea, chills, and strange food cravings.

When do I find relief from my shoulder pain?

The next morning, my shoulder pain is finally gone, and I feel a sense of relief. Even though I know this is a temporary state for me, I get a little reprieve in my weekly pattern. So, I do what anyone in my situation would do: Ask my son for a game of hide and seek. This time I make myself smaller than I've ever been in the back of his closet, where - with a huge smile - he finds me anyway.

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