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Neck Pain

Neck pain has been listed as a migraine symptom for some people living with migraine. Neck pain can include the muscles or nerves in the neck.

The neck discomfort can also occur in the bones of the spine or the disks that cushion the areas between the spinal bones. It can also feel like the migraine is in the base of the neck. Other say it feels like a migraine attack that radiates from the neck to head.

Migraine and neck pain

Migraine can have a range of symptoms. These migraine symptoms vary from person to person. Some people living with migraine report neck pain during migraine attacks.

Warning: A stiff neck can be a sign of a more serious or potentially life-threatening condition. Seek immediate medical assistance if you experience stiff neck along with fever and headache.

Studies on migraine and neck pain

A 2010 study of 113 patients found that neck pain occurred with the migraine attacks more often than nausea, even though nausea is closely associated with migraine.

An informal survey of 144 people with migraine found that 75 percent said they had neck pain with their migraine, which is the same percentage that experienced sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound and nausea. In this poll, neck pain was named three times as often as migraine aura and vomiting.

Type of neck pain in the survey:

  • 69% felt tightness
  • 17% experienced stiffness
  • 60% said the neck pain came first

In the 2018 In America survey, we asked “What symptoms do you typically experience with your migraine attacks?” Out of the 4,356 respondents, 69% reported experiencing neck pain as part of a migraine symptom.

Other factors that can cause neck pain

  • Neck injury
  • Ruptured disk
  • Fractures
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
  • Poor posture
  • Osteoporosis
  • Infection of the spine
  • Cancer that involves the spine
  • Arthritis
  • Meningitis
  • Bone spurs
  • Muscle strain
  • Compressed nerves
  • Worn joints
  • Whiplash
  • Fibromyalgia

Tracking migraine symptoms

Managing migraine symptoms can be helped by keeping an accurate account of each migraine attack in your migraine journal. Rate the severity of your symptoms, how often they occur and how long they last. This will help determine what your migraine triggers are as well as help you prepare to treat migraine before the pain becomes too severe. Your migraine journal will also help you discuss your symptoms with your migraine specialist.

Community experiences of migraine and neck pain advocates frequently write about their experiences with neck pain. They discuss the importance of choosing the perfect pillow as well as neck pain and the pleasure and pain of hair salons. From highlighting research that reviews just how disabling neck pain can be during migraine attacks to discussing how a stiff neck prior to a migraine can be visible to others, the migraine community often chimes in to share their experiences with neck pain.


Written by: Otesa Miles | Last review date: November 2010