Neck pain or Cervicalgia, and the Migraine Syndrome

“My neck always hurts. Sometimes it kills me so bad, I cannot think and have to go lie down. It all started when I injured my neck years ago. When I get stressed out it is the worst. Well, it doesn’t take much to stress me out nowadays. It’s always the back of my head and neck. I wish I could cut it out. Then maybe I could think and remember better. The last time I had a massage she said my neck and shoulders were the tightest she had seen in months! Nothing seems to help for any length of time. I’m so frustrated!”

This is a very common presentation of the migraine syndrome []. Frequently their problems are compounded by overmedication—either by self-medicating or prescription drugs. Often there is a history of injury to the neck, for example, whiplash. Often they have been to the chiropractor and have been told there neck is so far out of alignment that the curve in the neck is reversed. The curve in the neck is straightened or reversed because of painful spasm. The trigeminal nerve (sensation of the face) and the cervical (neck) nerves are adjacent to each other in the brain stem (the base of the brain). What affects one affects the other. Migraineurs who smoke usually will develop neck problems. It is absolutely essential for the migraineur who smokes to abstain! Smoke is a smell. The sensitivity to the smell is the problem! Also secondhand smoke and perfumes are major problems. The patient can develop extreme sensitivity to stress and after years with frequently develop fibromyalgia.

Neck pain can be debilitating and frustrating. The migraine syndrome makes neck pain make sense. No matter what underlying conditions are there, the migraine syndrome can make it worse. This person falls into the migraine syndrome profile. Let me explain what I mean by the migraine syndrome. It is the outward expression of the body’s sensitivity to light, sound, smell, food, and/or stress. Some people are more sensitive than others; therefore, their reactions to different stimuli are greater. This sensitivity can be manifested in the body as migraines, sinus headaches, neck aches, palpitations, irritable bowel syndrome, motion sickness or vertigo, reactive hypoglycemia, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), panic attacks, and/or fibromyalgia. Now that’s a mouthful! Understanding what is going on with you is very important in the healing process.