Could Your Migraines Be the Result of Neck Problems?

A scan of any list of migraine signs and symptoms rarely brings up mention of neck pain, yet an Italian study from 2016 showed a link between cervical neck pain and migraines. It may turn out that neck pain is one of the most common symptoms of migraines, which can otherwise be very individual, with widely varying symptom combinations.

This relationship works the other way, too. Patients who think they have cervical neck pain are indeed experiencing migraines, and the X-rays and other treatments received based on their self-diagnosis are ineffective for reducing migraine symptoms.

Common symptoms

There are several symptoms that overlap between neck pain and migraines. Some of these include:

With so many common symptoms experienced in the cervical vertebrae of the neck, could neck problems contribute to the migraine experience? It seems increasingly likely that this is the case.

Functions of the cervical spine

Understanding the role of the upper spine helps provide a basis for connecting neck issues with migraines. There are three primary functions that the bones of the neck perform. The first two cervical vertebrae, commonly referred to as C1 (the atlas) and C2, have a unique design, different than other vertebrae, and they’re responsible for more than half of the motion of your head because of their shape. This is where the brain stem connects to the spinal cord and a key function of C1 and C2 is protecting this vital communications pathway.

These two vertebrae support the weight of the skull, typically 10 to 14 pounds. All this weight balances on C1 called the atlas due to its singular support of your head. Any misalignment at this point can affect nerve communication anywhere else in the body. Finally, the cervical vertebrae provide passage of critical blood vessels, providing nutrients to the brain. Any restriction to these vessels may affect the functions of the brain and reduced blood flow plays a key role in migraine attacks.

Misalignment and migraines

The impact of misalignment of the cervical vertebrae is hard to overestimate. All communications to the body pass through these joints, as does most of the blood supply to the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid may not drain normally due to misalignment, which may also affect the brain stem, whose function is closely related to migraine activity.

Chiropractic treatment of the cervical spine

There’s long been anecdotal evidence that chiropractic adjustments can shorten the duration of migraine attacks. Some research has shown that duration of symptoms can be cut almost in half. Proper alignment of the cervical vertebrae addresses each of the three critical functions of this part of your neck. Proper alignment aids the balance of the weight of your head on the atlas, and subsequently over the rest of your spine. This, in turn, assures that there’s no restriction on nerves passing through the vertebrae, and that blood flow is unrestricted. Each of these improvements permits your body’s own healing mechanisms to work more efficiently to restore pain-free conditions in your body. This is the essence and power of chiropractic care.

If you’re suffering from either migraines or cervical spine pain, the issue may come down to alignment of your cervical spine. Contact DMC Healthcare in Dallas, Texas, by phone or online to set up an appointment with me and see how spinal adjustments can reduce the migraine pain you suffer, no matter where it occurs.

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