Migraine and Neck Pain

Migraines are pulsating headaches and may greatly affect the quality of your life. You usually experience the pain on one side of your head and it becomes severe with physical activity. There may be a great variation in symptoms from one attack to the next. The severity of symptoms may also vary from person to person. Most people experience migraine and neck pain together along with other symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and extreme sensitivity to sound and light. Find out how to make your condition manageable.

Can Migraine Cause Neck Pain?

Yes, it can. Migraine attacks can cause serious pain that may continue from hours to days. You may experience some symptoms before this disabling pain hits you hard. These symptoms are known as aura that may occur before the headache, which may include blind spots, flashes of light, or tingling in the arm, leg, or on one side of the face. Since the neck and head work together, it is common for migraine sufferers to experience neck pain at the same time.

Neck pain may include the nerves and muscles in the neck, and they may affect the bones in the spine. Some people find a connection between migraine and neck pain and say that their migraine pain seems to radiate from the neck to head. It is important to understand that people with migraines are at a greater risk of developing occipital neuralgia, which is a throbbing pain behind the ears or in the upper neck. This may also be the reason why you experience neck pain whenever you have a migraine attack.

Ways to Manage the Pain

1. Stay in a Calm Environment

It is a good idea to take a break from your usual activities as soon as you notice the first sign of a migraine. 

  • For starters, take some rest and turn off the lights in your room because you are likely to develop increased sensitivity to light at this stage.
  • You may also benefit from temperature therapy, which involves applying cold or hot compresses to your neck or head.
  • Enjoy a caffeinated beverage in small amounts to relieve your pain. You should drink a caffeinated beverage after taking an aspirin or Tylenol to boost its pain-reducing effects. Avoid drinking too much caffeine though.

2. Sleep Well

It is never going to be easy to fall asleep when you have migraine and neck pain, but a poor night's sleep is only going to make matters worse. Here are some tips to try:

  • Establish a regular sleep routine and go to bed at the same time every night. Do not change your routine on weekends as well. Napping during the day is not a great idea, especially if it goes beyond 20-30 minutes.
  • Try to unwind at the end of your day to promote better sleep. You may listen to your favorite music, read a good book, or soak in a warm bath to relax your nerves. Avoid intense exercise, caffeine, heavy meals, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime.
  • Avoid or limit distractions in your bedroom. Never watch TV in your bedroom. Taking work materials to your bed is not a good idea either. Keep the door of your bedroom closed and make use of a fan to muffle any distracting noises.
  • Do not try too hard to sleep. Do not push yourself hard and instead get out of your bed and do a quiet activity. Simply reading a book for a while may make you drowsy and help you fall asleep.
  • Talk to your doctor if you think your medications contain stimulants that keep you awake at night. Some medications used to treat migraines can also interfere with your sleep, so discuss your problems with your doctor for a better treatment approach.

3. Eat Wisely

You need to pay attention to your diet to prevent migraine and neck pain. Here are some rules to follow:

  • Always eat at the same time every day.
  • Never skip meals because fasting puts you at a greater risk of migraines.
  • Maintain a food journal to know what food items trigger migraines.
  • Find and avoid food triggers such as chocolate, aged cheese, alcohol, and caffeine.

4. Be Active

It is important to have an active lifestyle to prevent migraines. You should exercise regularly because physical activity releases feel-good hormones that improve your mood and prevent headaches. These chemicals also play a role in lowering depression and anxiety. At the same time, regular exercise helps maintain a healthy body weight – obesity can make your headaches worse. Swimming, walking, and cycling will all work. Talk to your doctor to determine the best exercise for you.

5. Manage Stress

You cannot get rid of migraine and neck pain if you do nothing to manage stress. It is hard to stay away from stress, but you can try things to keep things under control. For instance:

  • Keep your life simple and do not try to handle too many things at one time.
  • Learn to manage your time better. Create a to-do list and update it every day to manage things better.
  • Do not work for hours on end – take short breaks and do some simple stretches to renew your energy.
  • Maintain a positive outlook towards life and believe in yourself.
  • Spend some time doing things you enjoy. Doing a hobby for only 15 minutes daily can make a huge difference.

In addition, you should try some breathing exercises and meditation to help lower stress. Deep breathing works great – inhale and exhale slowly for at least 10 minutes to see the difference. 

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